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Several County drivers charged with impaired driving on weekend

Prince Edward OPP charged three drivers with several impaired related offences over the weekend.

This on the heels of comments late December from Staff Sergeant John Hatch, Detachment Commander, who continues to be concerned about impaired driving numbers in Prince Edward County.

He noted that over the course of the last seven years, there were about 39 impaired drivers – almost one a week. In 2021, there were 48 – a 24 per cent increase.

In 2022, there have already been 69 impaired driving convictions, up 75 per cent, something Hatch says may be COVID-19 related as people’s habits changed, but he also attributes the higher numbers to his officers for being on the roads at one, two or three o’clock in the morning.

“They are patrolling the roads, stopping these cars, and we are pulling these impaired drivers, where maybe 10 years ago, we weren’t as pro-active, or we didn’t have the staff and we weren’t able to get those impaired drivers off the road.”

On Friday Jan. 6, 2023 shortly after 7 p.m. officers responded to a report of a motor vehicle collision where a vehicle had struck a deer.

“Further investigation revealed one driver had consumed alcohol and an approved screening device was administered registering a ‘warn’ range,” said PEC Constable Aaron Miller, Media Relations Officer. A 73-year-old driver had their licence suspended for a period of three days.

On Saturday, Jan, 7 shortly after 12 a.m. officers observed a vehicle in the ditch near Highway 62 and County Road 1 when they stopped to check on the driver.

“After further investigation an approved screening device was administered. As a result, the driver was arrested and transported to detachment for further testing. A 33-year-old from Prince Edward County, was charged with Operation while impaired and Operation while impaired – blood alcohol concentration.
The driver was released on an undertaking and is to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice on Feb. 1. They also had their licence suspended for 90 days and vehicle impounded for a period of seven days.”

Later on Saturday, shortly before 11 p.m., officers stopped a vehicle on Bridge Street in Picton and spoke to the driver.

“An approved screening device was administered and as a result, the driver was arrested and transported to detachment for further testing. A 28-year-old from Prince Edward County was charged with Operation while impaired and Operation while impaired – blood alcohol concentration.

The driver was released on an undertaking and is to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice on Feb. 8. They also had their drivers licence suspended for 90 days and vehicle impounded for a period of seven days.

Immediately after the above occurrence, officers responded to a report of a vehicle into a pole on Victoria Road.

“Upon speaking with the driver it was determined they had been operating while impaired. The driver was arrested and transported to detachment for further testing. Further, the driver was found to be in possession of a quantity of suspected cocaine and psilocybin. A 23-year-old from Prince Edward County was charged with Operation while impaired – alcohol and drugs; Operation while impaired – blood alcohol concentration; Possession of a schedule one substance – cocaine and Possession of a schedule three substance.

The driver was released on an undertaking and is to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice on Feb. 8. They also had their drivers licence suspended for 90 days and vehicle impounded for a period of seven days.

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  1. Roland Gillespie says:

    Laying blame on wineries, breweries, cideries, etc. for the number of DUIs is unfounded, given that alcohol servers are required to have attained “Smart Serve” whereby they are required to refuse serving anyone who displays any signs of intoxication. One can only surmise that these DUIs are the result of social drinking at private homes, or worse: in personal vehicles.

  2. B Wilder says:

    Here is a link to OPP reports for 2022 as reported in this newspaper. https://www.countylive.ca/prince-edward-opp-reports-2022/
    Of all the impaired operation charges, 4 seem to have been from out of this area. One from Toronto, one from Thunder Bay, one from Madawaska and if memory serves one from Bancroft. There were a number from Belleville and Quinte West, but by far the largest number of impaired drivers are described as County residents.
    Sergeant Hatch candidly notes that police are catching more impaired drivers because they have more officers on the road looking for them in the wee hours of the morning. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there were fewer impaired drivers in the past just that fewer were caught.
    It is not the fault of a winery, a craft brewer, a restaurant or a bar. Impaired driving is a choice made by individual. It seems that the tirade by some commenters to this story against those businesses is simply another attack by them on the Tourist industry…that they blame for every woe.

  3. LB says:

    My pet peeve is people who post strong statements without any factual data. It could very well be that the promotion of wine & beer tastings in the County has a direct link to the DUIs.

    However, I pointed out in my previous post that jumping to that sweeping conclusion was a mistake. I also pointed out the DUI numbers were similar in Kawartha Lakes region despite the absence of a wine & beer industry (which was a fact).

    I’d like to see the OPP stats that show how many drivers arrested were prior patrons of the wineries & breweries. It would also be wise to have an expert decipher the stats so as to properly understand to what extent tourism is (or is not) a contributor to DUI and if so, how best to respond.

    Let me ask this: what’s the difference if the DUI driver consumed the alcohol at a winery or brewery, or at a local restaurant? Is one instance deemed to be more “our” fault because we brought it upon ourselves and the other is more “their” fault? I think if anything is “obvious” in this discussion it’s the answer to that question.

  4. B Wilder says:

    Seems that virtually everyone has missed the fact that all of the drivers mentioned in this article are residents of the County. I also note that one driver was caught just after midnight and the other two around 11 pm. I am not aware of any winery that is open at that time. Not many craft brewers are open late night during the winter. At least in this instance, we see local people choosing to drink to excess and choosing to drive their motor vehicles. Two of those locals were involved in collisions. Don’t blame Tourism for the acts of irresponsible local residents.

  5. AMonds says:

    Being a transplant from the outside the County, I moved here a few years ago. Yes I love the wine industry here, and the tourism is what attracted me. The down side is, that you can’t expect to have it all. If youre going to infuse the County with easier access to alcohol, you have to expect that these things will happen. Yes the alcohol is heavily promoted, and it’s fun being here. Fun plus an abundance of alcohol can get a little hectic. I love it here, despite all the issues.

  6. Rob #2 says:

    Harvey is right on.

    My trash bashing on my country road turns up a surprising number of beer bottles and cans, even cases full of empties tossed out along the road. There has to be a significant amount of alcohol consumed in vehicles.

  7. Chuck says:

    The County has always been famous for booze. The County was the Rum Runners to Oswego New York during prohibition.

  8. Teena says:

    The simple fact is that if you drink alcohol, be responsible for your own actions. It is your own damned fault.

  9. angela says:

    The sheer number of wineries/breweries here is a curse on the county. They were the beginning of the end for it.

  10. TomW says:

    I’m surprised this isn’t more obvious. Do people here really believe our tourism would be the same without the wine and craft brewers? Think again. It’s a major attraction. And with that, comes the ugly side effects our community has to deal with. Think about the community as a whole and the impact these services and attractions have on us – both positive and negative. Of course they are a contributor. Like it or not. Facts are facts.

  11. KB says:

    It’s impossible to ignore the correlation between increased booze availability such as wineries and breweries to alcohol related offences. Example: last summer during a power black out the LCBO and Beer both shut down. Not the craft brewers and wineries – they were still open, taking cash and collecting the profits.
    Local or tourist, doesn’t matter. And I note, the new local is not much different from the old local as far as that goes. There is a significant impact on this community, some good, and some not so good. If there were no benefit and nothing to gain, then the wine makers and craft brewers wouldn’t be so popular. Why else would so many people want to come here for wine tours etc? And, yes I also agree, it is over marketed. A significant contributor to alcohol related crime. Not sure how anyone couldn’t see this. Not saying this is the one and only reason, but yes, I believe there is an impact.

  12. Harvey Tremeer says:

    I frequently walk along a section of County Road 23 south from the village or Rednersville. I always take a bag with me to collect alcoholic beverage cans and return them for the deposit. Last year I got between $15 and $20 for cans I collected. I don’t believe these all were discarded by tourists. Mostly locals I think.

  13. SM says:

    Jenny D, ever hear of a “Horn Trip”. Those have been a County thing long before wineries, breweries and tourism. Just sayin….

  14. Teena says:

    How about the drunk drivers just accept the responsibility for their own actions, instead of blaming it on the tourism industry? And no, I don’t work with or for the tourism industry.

  15. Rick m says:

    Most people if they were being completely honest that drink “social or at home” have driven over the legal limit at one time or another. People that point their fingers should maybe take a long, hard look at themselves or family members. Even some police on occasion have been out to an event and had a couple of drinks and been over the limit.

  16. LB says:

    I think drawing a straight line to connect the PEC tourism industry with drinking and driving is just bad forward reasoning and a cheap shot at tourism. For example, the Kawartha Lakes region reported over 55 DUI charges laid in 2022 (as of Dec.7, 2022 – not sure of the final 2022 total) without any of the tourism industry that PEC has. I’m sure other non-winery/brewery Ontario regions sadly saw increases as well.

    I would bet the PEC increases in DUI charges are a result of a combination of factors.

  17. JennyD says:

    …wineries, craft breweries, bars, restaurants with lengthy alcohol/wine service lists – this is all part of the PEC marketing campaign….not sure why it’s reported as such a huge surprise. I mean nobody should be shocked given the core industry of this county. Booze is everywhere we go, and in everything we see. It’s inescapable in the county. That’s what draws people here, and that’s the way of life for people who live here. And that’s what the county wants – lots of tourism and lots of wine and beer.
    Just sayin.

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