Hamilton police officers pulled over more than 6,000 more vehicles this year in RIDE programs than they did in 2012, making 2013 a record year.

Officers stopped 235,000 vehicles in RIDE lanes this year. That’s a 6,685 over last year, when officers stopped 228,315 vehicles. The number marks a steady upward trend since 2006.

The number of RIDE stops is up to officers on duty, said Const. Claus Wagner from Hamilton Police Service.

If there’s a “little bit of a lull” in calls for service, “they go out and do RIDE lanes,” Wagner said.

Number of RIDE stops conducted by Hamilton police officers

2013: 235,000

2012: 228,315

2011: 167,766

2010: 150,256

2009: 152,833

2008: 132,508

2007: 89,536

2006: 95,989

There is a threshold on the number of RIDE stops the service can do with its number of officers. Wagner suspects Hamilton police are nearing their limit.

“We can’t keep going up every year,” he said. “Eventually there will be a ceiling.”

There was a slight decrease in the number of alcohol-related charges laid this year. As of Monday, police made 484 alcohol-related arrests in 2013. That’s compared to 538 in 2012.

With New Year’s Eve on Tuesday night, the final number could increase, Wagner said. RIDE lanes will start Tuesday afternoon.

RIDE stops function as a deterrent as much as they do an enforcement tool, he said.

“It’s the presence of us out there, because there are still people that for some reason make the decision that they’re OK to drive."

Alcohol-related arrests

2013: 484

2012: 538

Police ramp up RIDE lanes during the holiday season. From Dec. 24 to 26, police laid 13 alcohol-related driving charges and 208 speeding tickets, Wagner said.

Hamilton police get an annual grant of about $44,000 for RIDE stops from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. That money is spread throughout the year, Wagner said.

Police have partnered with the Hamilton Bulldogs this season. Officers have been issuing vouchers for a free Bulldogs ticket to drivers who successfully go through a RIDE stop.

Police also rely on Operation Look Out, a program that encourages residents to call 911 if they see what they suspect is an impaired driver. So far this year, police have arrested 167 people through the program.

Police checked 167,766 vehicles in RIDE stops in 2011.

In a statement from police on Monday, Staff Sgt. Robert Hersics says he has a simple message.

“Impaired driving leads to the tragic loss of lives and is 100 per cent preventable,” he said.

CBC Hamilton's 2013 impaired driving series: