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Drug-impaired driving incidents in Ontario’s York Region up in 2016, “trend indicates continuing increases”: police


January 5, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter


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Ontario’s York Regional Police (YRP) is reporting that while the number of charges for drug-impaired driving is down slightly for 2016 from the previous year, the number of incidents has risen “and the trend indicates continuing increases.”

Close-up of a men driving and smoking jointYRP – whose jurisdiction includes the communities of Aurora, Keswick, Mount Albert, Newmarket, Queensville, Schomberg, Gormley, Kleinburg, Maple, Markham, Nobleton, Oak Ridges, Unionville and Whitchurch-Stouffville – said in a press release on Wednesday that impaired driving resulted in the deaths of nine people last year, “one of the worst years for impaired-related fatalities in recent history.”

In 2016, there were 1,265 impaired driving incidents, up from 1,255 in 2015. The number of charges, however, dropped from 1,695 in 2015 to 1,626 last year. YRP explained in the release that the number of incidents is calculated using methodology required by Statistics Canada and does not include multiple charges laid in a single incident. The YRP’s Traffic Bureau tracks all charges laid in a single incident, for example, where one person in one incident is charged with both impaired driving and driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .08.

“While the number of charges are down slightly, the number of incidents rose once again and the trend indicates continuing increases,” YRP said in the release. In addition, included in the total number of charges for 2016 were 81 charges laid for “impaired driving by drug,” up 69% from 2015. Drug-impaired drivers were found to be under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, ketamine, fentanyl and prescription medications.

YRP reported that in 2013, the number of drug-impaired driving incidents was 868; in 2014, it was 1,108; in 2015, it was 1,255; and last year, it was 1,265. The number of charges in 2013 was 1,240; 1,472 in 2014; 1,695 in 2015; and 1,626 last year.

“These incredibly disappointing numbers must serve as a wake-up call that something has to change,” YRP Chief Eric Jolliffe said in the release. “It’s alarming that prior to the pending legalization of marijuana, we are seeing this spike of drivers impaired by drugs. In light of the continued warnings about the dangers of impaired driving from police services across Canada, it’s shocking that anyone feels they have the right to risk the lives of innocent people by drinking alcohol or using drugs and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. We will continue to use education, enforcement and every tool at our disposal in our fight against impaired driving.”

Other notable impaired driving statistics for 2016 include:

  • Of the drivers arrested, 85% were men and 15% were women;
  • Almost half the of men arrested ranged in age from 22 to 34;
  • Almost half the women arrested ranged in age from 26 to 45;
  • There was an increase in the number of people charged who advised that they had been drinking at a private residence before driving versus those drinking at a bar or club;
  • Breath test reading ranges for blood alcohol concentration include:
    • >300 = 2% treated as a medical emergency
    • 200 – 300 = 12%
    • 150 – 200 = 24%
    • 120 – 150 = 19%
    • 100 – 120 = 15%
    •   80 – 100 = 6%.