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Time the only remedy

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Time, it is reputed, heals all wounds.

The science may still be out on that, but there is no debate on the fact time is the only thing that will clear alcohol from one’s system.

“It’s all about time, it’s nothing to do with sleep, coffee or a shower,” said Oxford OPP Inspector Tim Clark. “If you put one (drink) in, you need a certain amount of time for it to leave your body.”

The Christmas season is an appropriate one for a timely reminder. Oxford OPP conducts RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) programs year-round as one of its ‘big four’ target areas (impaired, aggressive and distracted drivers, along with seat belt compliance) but there is additional grant money available in areas of contracted service during the holiday season.

“We do that because your safety and the safety of others depend on it,” said Clark.

The Festive RIDE Program runs from November 24 through to January 2. During that period, enhanced enforcement translates into increased checks, including those outside of the more traditional (10 p.m. to midnight) timeframe.

Morning RIDE Programs are designed to deter those who may be up, drinking well into the night or morning, and consider a couple of hours of sleep sufficient to sober up.

“And then think they’re good to drive in the morning,” said Clark.

“That’s a very false assumption,” added Constable Stacey Culbert.

Each individual is just that, an individual, and there is no precise formula for how long it takes alcohol to clean one’s system. The math however, does start with the fact a shot of alcohol is equivalent to a beer, which is also equivalent to a six-ounce glass of wine. As a general rule of thumb only, it takes roughly an hour for one of those equivalent amounts of alcohol to clear one’s system.

The point is mute for those drivers aged 16-22 points out Clark, given new laws require them to have zero alcohol in their blood while driving. This is a reality which he says encourages younger, less experienced designated drivers (DDs) to not attempt to ‘have a few,’ and consider themselves able to drive, potentially leading to negative consequences.

“That law has really impacted us in a positive way.”

Festive RIDE Programs are prosecuted in both high-visibility, high-traffic areas for a combination of enforcement and education, but also in lower-traffic areas.

“For people who think they can sneak around the back roads,” said Clark.

In a perfect world, Oxford OPP officers would lay zero impaired driving charges, but the 2012-2013 Festive RIDE Program has already proven perfection may be an unattainable goal.

“I think the better thing for us to say realistically is we want to cut down the number of impaired driving and over 80 charges we get every year,” said Culbert.

Plan ahead, be prepared, ‘and think,’ she encouraged, noting considerable planning goes into hosting or attending a party.

“Add on ‘how are we getting home?’ And it shouldn’t be the discussion five minutes before you walk out the door.”

And while ‘if you choose to drink, don’t drive,’ may be a repetitive message, it remains a particularly pertinent one.

“That’s it,” Clark agreed.

“Phone a friend, call a cab, plan ahead or walk,” Culbert added in conclusion.


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