Holiday RIDE Checks Using Random Breath Samples

Traffic Services


In the midst of the COVID pandemic, Toronto Police has modified its approach to the Holiday RIDE program and will be asking drivers at random to provide a breath sample.

New protocols, training and personal protective equipment have been implemented to its campaign that runs until January 2, 2021, to ensure the safety of the public and officers.

“Traditionally during the RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) program, officers would get in closely to the drivers and ask them to roll their windows down and take that opportunity to see if there is any smell of alcohol coming from the driver’s breath,” said Sgt. Jason Kraft of Traffic Services. “Because of the pandemic, that practice isn’t recommended to police officers to conduct during the RIDE spot checks or any vehicle stops.”

Police officers are leveraging the Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) that came into effect in December 2018.

Police officers across Canada can now demand a breath sample after pulling over a vehicle for a driving infraction or at a RIDE spot check.

“Other countries have shown an increase in impaired detection by administering this mandatory alcohol screening randomly,” said Kraft. “What members of the public can expect is that officers during a RIDE spot check will have a plan in place to administer that random alcohol screening without bias.

“An example is the supervisor at a RIDE spot check may tell officers that every 10 minutes, the vehicle they stop during the check will be subjected to a mandatory alcohol screening. The officer doesn’t have to have any suspicion whatsoever that the driver was driving with alcohol in their system.”

Failure to comply with the officers’ request to blow into the device could result in a criminal charge.

“There are some steps that the officer must have in place before they can legally make a demand from a driver,” said Kraft. “They have to witness the driver operating the vehicle on the road, they have to have a lawful reason to stop the driver and a RIDE check is the legal reason for the stop and, thirdly, the officer has to have readily available to them that alcohol screening device.

“Drivers refusing or failing to provide that sample is the equivalent of failing the breath test under the criminal code. That refusal may result in arrest and a charge of failing to provide a suitable sample of their breath.”

Kraft said drivers should aim to avoid consuming any alcohol or drugs when getting behind the wheel to avoid any chance of impairment.

In 2019, 854 RIDE spot checks were conducted in our city. A total of 1,858 impaired-related charges were laid, including 164 drug-related charges. Similarly, 220 driving suspensions were issued during the spot checks.So far in 2020, 179 RIDE spot checks were conducted in our city. A total of 1,370 impaired-related charges were laid, including 86 drug-related charges. Similarly, 138 driving suspensions were issued during the spot checks.

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