Ontario’s police force are reminding drivers that RIDE checks are not just for drinking and driving.

In the first RIDE campaign, since non-medical marijuana was legalized, drivers are being reminded that officers are prepared to deal with drug-impaired drivers as much as they are prepared for people drinking and driving.

The O.P.P. says that so far this year, drugs and alcohol were a factor in 39 deaths across the roads patrolled by its officers. According to the O.P.P. from January 1st to mid-October, 6,700 charges were laid, and 283 of those were drug-related.

Police officials say the O.P.P. has had Drug Recognition Experts in place for years, adding that their officers are trained on effectively spotting drug impairment. As well, officials warn drivers any Cannabis in the car must be in the original packaging and sealed, or in baggage that is closed and not accessible to any person in the car.

Novice drivers are being reminded they can not have any drugs or alcohol in their system.

The Provincial Commander of Traffic Safety and Operational Support, and interim Deputy Commissioner, Rosie DeMarco says”Drivers who consume cannabis and think they can avoid detection by the OPP need to think again. The OPP has a strong set of tools and skills that enable them to take drug and alcohol-impaired drivers off our roads. Whether a person is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, impaired is impaired. Both forms are dangerous, serious criminal offences and they carry similar penalties.”

Slyvia Jones, the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, says “make no mistake – just because recreational cannabis has been legalized doesn’t mean you can drive while under the influence. Driving impaired – whether from drugs or alcohol – remains a serious criminal offence.”