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Alcohol-related charges up 37% from last January: OPP

The number of alcohol-related charges is up in January compared to the same time last year, according to statistics released by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

Police laid 118 impaired driving charges in January, versus 86 charges in January of 2014, which is an increase of 37 per cent.

The latest statistics come on the heels a fatal crash on Highway 401 in Whitby on Tuesday night that claimed the life of a 51-year-old man. A 31-year-old North York man is facing impaired driving charges.

However, in Peel Region, police the number of impaired driving charges is down significantly. Police laid 228 drinking and driving charges from December to January 2014, compared to 241 charges the same time period in 2013.

York regional police said they have laid over 1,500 charges in the entire year of 2014.

Also, the number of crashes to start this year is up significantly over last year. Police said 29 people died on OPP-patrolled roads from Jan.1 to Feb. 2, compared to 21 in January of 2014 — an increase of 38 per cent.

Under the Highway Traffic Act, there has also been an increase of around 49 per cent in the number of street racing charges in January – 103 charges — versus the same month last year – 69 charges. Provincially, the number of street racing and criminal driving charges were also up by 46 per cent — 185 charges in January and 271 charges in January of 2015, respectively.

The OPP’s Highway Safety Division said officers will continue to crack down on what they call “the Big 4” — impaired driving, distracted driving, aggressive driving and people not wearing their seatbelts.

Impaired driving statistics: gender and age

Meanwhile, data from Statistics Canada (1986 to 2011) shows the vast majority of those charged with drinking and driving are male. In 2011, there were 90,277 impaired driving incidents with 82.4 per cent charged being males and 19.6 per cent females.

However, there’s been a steady increase in impaired female drivers since the 1980s, while the number of impaired male drivers has decreased slightly.

Statistics Canada numbers from 2011 also show the highest impaired driving rates occurred within the 20 to 24 age group. The rates decrease with increasing age.

Also, drivers under 35 years old account for two-thirds of those accused of impaired driving causing death and causing injury in 2011.

With files from Adrian Ghobrial and Shauna Hunt