Thunder Bay·Audio

Thunder Bay police to step up impaired driving enforcement after 'alarming' January

Police in Thunder Bay, Ont., will be stepping up impaired driving enforcement after what the force is calling an "alarming" January.

Thunder Bay police charge 20 people in January

Thunder Bay Police charged 20 people with impaired driving in January 2017. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

Police in Thunder Bay, Ont., will be stepping up impaired driving enforcement after what the force is calling an "alarming" January.

In a media release issued Wednesday, police in the northwestern Ontario city said 20 people were charged with impaired driving in Thunder Bay over the course of January 2017.

That's a marked increase from January 2016, when nine such charges were laid.

Const. Mark Cattani of the Thunder Bay Police traffic unit said the January numbers are indicative of what local police have been seeing for years when it comes to impaired driving in the city.

"In 2015, we had 142 charges laid for all types of impaired driving," Cattani said. "And then 166 in 2016. So right there, it's close to a 20 per cent increase from 2015 to 2016."

Festive RIDE charges up

"We released the (2016/2017 Festive RIDE) statistics at the beginning of January," he said. "And, again, we found that ... there was another substantial increase."

According to the Festive RIDE statistics, 15 people were charged with impaired driving during 2016/2017 Festive RIDE checks. That's up from 10 in 2015/2016.

Cattani said the numbers are "definitely showing that impaired driving is on the rise in Thunder Bay."

"There doesn't seem to be any one trend that we can say 'all right, it's one specific location, or it's one specific night, or time of day,'" he said. "It seems to be anywhere, at any time."

"It's hard to make sense of it," Cattani said. "How do we tackle this as a service?"

Police will start running more RIDE checks in response to the numbers, Cattani said. 

In addition, the Zone Watch program will be running public service announcements about the dangers of drunk driving.

Numbers 'discouraging'

Overall, Cattani said the number of impaired driving is "discouraging."

"It shouldn't be happening anymore," he said. "It's been generations where it's been a societal taboo to drink and drive."

"We have to stay the course and commit ourselves to keeping the roads safe."

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