Sudbury's festive RIDE program launches for another season

As Greater Sudbury Police Services launched its annual festive ride program, the mother of a teenager killed by a drunk driver three years ago says penalties should be stiffer for offenders.
Kim Hancock, whose son was killed in 2014, says penalties for drunk drivers aren't tough enough. (Casey Stranges CBC)

Kim Hancock wants penalties for impaired driving to be stiffer for offenders.

She joined Greater Sudbury Police in Lively on Thursday to launch the annual festive ride program for the holiday season.

Hancock's teenage son DJ was killed by a drunk driver three years ago in Sudbury.

DJ's car was struck head-on by a truck on the Highway 17 southwest bypass in August 2014. The driver was sentenced to five years in prison later that same year.

"There's still a lot of drinking and driving going on," Hancock said. "Some people just don't get it. Some people have been doing it for 20, 30 years and just never been caught. They're on borrowed time."

"Eventually, it's got to come to an end. They need stiffer sentences, is what they need."

Final goal: elimination of impaired driving

Although there has been noticeable changes in the amount of people drinking and driving, there is still work to be done said Sudbury Deputy Police Chief Al Lekun. He added the festive RIDE program hopes to address that.

Officers set up checkpoints in random locations throughout the holiday season. They speak to each motorist as they pull through the RIDE spot check. Police officers are trained to detect impairment.

"Our numbers show over the last ten years we've seen a decrease in the number of drivers being arrested," Lekun said. "But our goal is really to eliminate impaired driving."

The police teamed up with other community groups — Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Action Sudbury, Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving (OSAID), Safe Ride Home Sudbury, and Canadian Blood Services — for the launch.

Officers stopped vehicles along Main Street in Lively to check for drivers who may be impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Jaymie Lyne Hancock says it's an ongoing battle keeping people informed about the dangers of drinking and driving. (Casey Stranges/CBC)

Jamie Lynn Hancock wants her brother DJ's memory to spur people into making smarter choices during the holiday season. She said she hopes her participation in events like the festive RIDE campaign ensure that DJ's death wasn't in vain.

"It's an ongoing fight," Jamie Lynn added. She wants people to remember to stay safe on the road all the time, but to take special caution during the holiday season.

"There's always options to get home at the end of the night."