Sudbury police launch R.I.D.E. campaign to check for alcohol and cannabis use

Sudbury Police have launched their festive R.I.D.E. campaign, where police will be around the region conducting checks for alcohol and drug impairment while driving. This year, the police will be conducting checks at different times during the day and using more tests to check for cannabis use.

Sudbury Police will be implementing new R.I.D.E. check times, more tests to cover new ground

Sergeant Tim Burtt, left, stands with Rileigh Erbersdobler, centre, from Confederation Secondary School, and Constable John Coluzzi during the launch of the festive R.I.D.E. check. (Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC)

Sudbury police launched their festive ride check campaign on Wednesday and this year, police will be tasked with also checking for cannabis use or consumption.

During the Christmas season, the police increase the number of R.I.D.E. checks they conduct around the region. Now, they've expanded their scope to check for those driving under the influence of drugs - whether that be smoked or as edibles.

Sergeant Tim Burtt of the Traffic Management unit of the Greater Sudbury Police says while the formatting of the R.I.D.E. checks hasn't changed now that they are checking for cannabis use, there are more tests involved.

"What we do now is the same thing: line of question, observations. All the stuff that we would," says Sgt. Brutt. "If we believe someone might be under the influence of a drug, we then make the next step to our standardized field sobriety technician."

Sudbury Police launched the festive R.I.D.E. check program on Wednesday in Hanmer. (Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC)

Sgt. Burtt says there are officers in the force who are trained to determine whether it is alcohol or drugs or a combination of both that may be impairing somebody's ability to drive.

"Once they're done their testing, they hand it over to our drug recognition experts," says Sgt. Burtt. Through the battery of tests that occur, the police are able to determine what the person has taken.

Sudbury Police will be conducting R.I.D.E checks in the morning, afternoon and early evenings around the region, in addition to the late night checks. (Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC)

Driving high just as bad as driving drunk, says mother of drunk driving victim

Kim Hancock knows too well the pain that comes with losing a loved one to drunk driving. Her son D.J. Hancock was killed in August 2014 after being hit during a collision by an impaired driver.

She handed out MADD car stickers on Wednesday and recalled the difficulty of being there.

"It's sad, yet good at the same time. I've dealt with this for four years and it's nice to see that most people are driving sober," says Hancock.

She says it's just as important to her that people take into account the rules around driving high as they do about driving under the influence of alcohol.

"Just because my son was killed by a drunk driver, doesn't mean you can't kill somebody while driving high or on different drugs."

Ride checks occur during the day too

The police are now also conducting ride checks during the morning, afternoon, and early evening hours, along with the typical late night checks.

"We're a community of outdoor activities and what we started thinking was we have people out on the boats, out on all types of vessels, and they're on all day and they come off early evening hours of the water. Same can be said for snowmobiles and ATVs that come in and off the trails and that's at all hours. " says Sgt. Burtt.

Sudbury Police were joined by members of Action Sudbury, MADD Canada, Safe Ride Home Sudbury, and Canadian Blood Services. (Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC)

He says when looking at some of the impaired drivers that were arrested, the arrests took place in the morning.

"A lot of that is the morning after," says Sgt. Burtt. "People would have been drinking the night before, think they're sober enough to get in the vehicle in the morning and they are getting into collisions and they are getting caught in relation to impaired driving."

Burtt says the police were finding that they were catching just as many people during the morning as they would during the night.

"Doing something in the middle of the day shouldn't be surprising. These R.I.D.E. spot checks work and if we take one person off a road who's been drinking and driving, we've accomplished our goal."