Impaired driving during the holidays has long been a problem the Ontario Provincial Police wishes to solve.
Trouble is, social media has thrown a wrench into those plans.
Norfolk OPP Const. Ed Sanchuk said that while December and early January tend to see more people getting into the driver’s seat after a few drinks, sites like Twitter and Facebook are making it more difficult for those people to be caught.
In recent years, social media users across the province have begun posting the locations of police RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) checks as a way to allow their friends and family members to avoid punishment.
“Impaired driving is very popular right now – people don’t seem to be getting the message,” said Sanchuk. “When you go to social media and put out the locations of the RIDE spot check programs we’re having, you’re not only jeopardizing innocent lives, you’re jeopardizing everyone’s life. Taking a drinking driver off the road is going to potentially save a life on our roadways and maybe even that driver.”
Most officers will tell you the worst days on the job come when they’re tasked with telling someone their family member has been killed in a preventable accident.
“How would you feel if a family member was killed by a drunk driver as a result of someone posting a location of a RIDE spot check? You probably wouldn’t feel too good,” Sanchuk said. “It’s called common sense and we need to get some of that this season.”
Police are not able to charge anyone who posts the location of RIDE checks, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t face legal issues. Sanchuk said any crash that results in an injury or death could result in a lawsuit.
“People need to realize that once you post something on social media, it’s out there for the world to see and it’s never going to go away,” he added. “Be prepared and think before you hit ‘send’ … keep some common sense and think before you post.”
Sanchuk reminded drivers that both alcohol and cannabis prohibit their ability to operate a vehicle safely and neither should be consumed before hitting the road.
“Driving is a privilege, it’s not a right,” he said. “If you can’t abide by the rules of the roadway and not drive a motor vehicle impaired then maybe you shouldn’t be driving at all.”