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Multiple Northwestern Ontario police services work together to conduct R.I.D.E. programs with a hope of curbing impaired driving this holiday season (Adam Riley / Acadia Broadcasting)

Police launch 2023 Festive R.I.D.E. program

By Adam Riley Dec 1, 2023 | 2:39 PM

Annual R.I.D.E. programs are underway in communities and on highways by police services across the Northwest.

On Thursday, a joint Thunder Bay Police, Ontario Provincial Police, Nishnawbe Aski Police, Canadian Pacific Police, Canadian National Police, and Anishinabek Police Services R.I.D.E. checkpoint helped kick off the season.

Inspector Ryan Gibson says the frequency of programs like this increases around the holiday for obvious and unfortunate reasons.

“This is the time of year where people do imbibe a bit more and we know there are more impaired drivers on the street, and we want to catch them and we want to strongly discourage them from doing that in the first place.”

In Thunder Bay, Gibson says by this time last year there were 173 impaired driving charges, sadly so far this year there have been 185 impaired charges, with numbers expected to exceed 200 by the time the campaign is completed.

It should also be noted impaired charges also pertain to those impaired by drugs, which the split, according to Gibson, sits at 50 percent.

When asked about challenges faced by some this year with the cancellation of Operation: Red Nose, which provided rides home to those who imbibe during the holiday season but is unable to due to a lack of resources, Gibson puts it bluntly, it is a matter of choices and means.

“If you have the money to get intoxicated by whatever your choice is and you have the functional ability to make a decision on what you are going to do that night. Then you have the ability as a grown up to make arrangements for you to get home that night. It is not society’s fault that you’ve decided to drink and drive or get high and drive and hurt someone. Driving is a privilege.”

Police conduct a joint festive R.I.D.E. launch in Thunder Bay on November 30, 2023 (Adam Riley / Acadia Broadcasting)

From time to time motorists might see joint R.I.D.E. programs in the region, as Gibson explains it helps expand the resources of sometimes limited available numbers.

“Everything from being able to set something up like a festive R.I.D.E. so we have more officers can show up, to even using each other’s skill sets as needed…by combining those resources and pooling them you are able to get more ‘bang for your buck’ if you will.”


From the OPP’s perspective there were a total of 140 impaired charges issued through the various detachments throughout the region, who held a combined 2,294 R.I.D.E. events.

  • Dryden – 8
  • Rainy River District – 7
  • Greenstone – 2
  • Kenora – 26
  • Marathon – 4
  • Nipigon – 5
  • Red Lake – 43
  • Sioux Lookout – 9
  • Thunder Bay – 36

From November 16th until the morning of November 29th a total of 645 R.I.D.E. programs had already been conducted in the region by the OPP, with 25 impaired charges issued so far.

  • Rainy River District – 1
  • Greenstone – 4
  • Kenora – 7
  • Red Lake – 8
  • Sioux Lookout – 2
  • Thunder Bay – 3

A member of the Thunder Bay Police Service speaks to a driver during the launch of the Festive R.I.D.E. program, in Thunder Bay on November 30th, 2023 (Adam Riley / Acadia Broadcasting)