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Durham police lay several impaired driving charges as Festive R.I.D.E. campaign continues

Durham Police investigating pair of crashes where impaired driving is suspected
WATCH: Durham police are appealing to the public after they laid several impaired driving charges over the weekend.

Durham regional police are appealing to the public after several impaired driving charges were laid over the weekend and two serious crashes occurred, leaving people in serious condition.

“It continues to be rampant,” says Sgt. Dave Phillips with Durham police.

“It continues to baffle and stifle the police across the country when you have the volume of impaired drivers that you do.”

Sgt. Phillips says officers continuously find people making the choice to get behind the wheel after having a drink. What’s most troublesome for officers on the force is the fact their Festive R.I.D.E. campaign just kicked off two weeks ago, with a number drivers already being charged.

READ MORE: Durham police report significant increase in impaired driving calls for 2019

“The ride program investigated more than 3,000 drivers and of that, they charged 16 drivers with impaired driving offences.”

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This weekend alone Phillips says they have laid 11 drug and alcohol-related charges. In a span of two days, Durham police say there were two serious crashes in the region, both of which are suspected to have involved impaired driving.

Another incident that happened early Friday morning left a female dead after being struck in a hit-and-run.

“We saw several motor vehicle collisions involving pedestrians,” Phillips said. “We also saw several involving impaired drivers.”

Impaired driving calls increase in Durham
Impaired driving calls increase in Durham

One crash in Whitby left a woman with serious injuries. Durham police say it happened Saturday evening around 7 p.m. at Rossland Road and McQuay Boulevard.

The driver had to be extricated from her car in a three-vehicle collision, and one man is facing charges of impaired driving causing bodily harm.

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In another collision on Friday afternoon in Oshawa, the driver allegedly lost control, going through a fence. Investigators say the passenger suffered serious injuries, while the driver, a 34-year-old man, was charged with impaired driving.

Phillips says it’s worrying seeing a increasing trend in the charges.

“They don’t seem to look to the future to see what other causes, what other pains they can cause for not only themselves, but other families,” Phillips said.

READ MORE: Whitby dad charged with impaired driving, twice in two days

It’s a thought that’s echoed by freelance photographer Colin Williamson.

Williamson has been responding to collisions and other emergency events for more than 20 years. “I’ve seen fatalities, severe injuries. I’ve seen the actual drunk driver lose his life,” says the photographer.

“It’s just so disheartening to see it and see it happening so often within our region.”

The latest numbers for the Festive R.I.D.E. campaign show not just impaired driving charges, but a number of others, as well. Of the more than 3,000 drivers pulled over, 21 people received suspensions for registering a WARN after a roadside test.

Phillips says that although penalties are stiff, they’re still not enough.

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“I do believe there needs to be a significant change to penalties to the point where it impacts the drivers significantly,” he said.

The Festive R.I.D.E. campaign will run until mid-December. Police say if you spot someone you think may be impaired to call 911 or Crime Stoppers.