Waterloo police’s Festive R.I.D.E. program returns to normal with more than 6,000 spot checks

File photo of emergency lights. File / Getty

After a couple of years of the COVID-19 pandemic, many things seemed to have settled back into the previous routine, including some that do not appear as obvious as others.

Waterloo Regional Police released their annual numbers for their annual Festive R.I.D.E. program this week, and officers checked over twice as many cars as they had in the previous year’s campaign.

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According to police, the officers checked 6,481 vehicles between Nov. 17, 2022 and Jan. 2, which is more than twice as many as the 3,008 spot checks that were conducted during the previous year.

Staff Sgt. Scott Griffiths of the traffic services unit told Global News in an email that the giant leap in spot checks over the recent Christmas holidays boils down to a return to normal operating procedures.

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“Our 2022 numbers – specifically vehicles checked – demonstrate a return to what you would normally envision a RIDE program to be – a static location with vehicles funneling into it,” he said.

“During the pandemic we had to modify those activities to accommodate restrictions/safety etc. which may reduce numbers of vehicles checked.  Vehicle volume has certainly returned on our roadways in general.”

In a release, police said 64 charges or suspensions were laid during their annual Festive R.I.D.E. program, which ran over the recent holiday season.

Police said the total included 16 impaired driving charges, 33 Highway Traffic Act charges and three Cannabis Control Act charges. A total of 12 three-day suspensions were also handed out by officers.

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Despite the higher number of checks in 2022-23, there were still a larger number of charges and suspensions laid during the previous year’s holiday enforcement blitz.

After the 2021-22 holiday season, Waterloo police announced 85 charges and suspensions during that season’s campaign, although just seven of those were for alcohol-impaired driving.

Griffiths noted that while the overall numbers for the campaign appear to be down, they have not totalled up the numbers for all of 2022 and he expects to see an increase year over year.

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“Charges related to our Festive RIDE program are only a part of our total impaired driving efforts, which include patrol call response, proactive traffic stops and my Traffic Services unit conducting nightly impaired driving interdiction efforts,” he said.

“The Festive RIDE numbers are broken out of that total.  We’re working on assembling year end totals for 2022 but our overall charges will be higher than 2021.”

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