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Drunk drivers using Twitter to avoid police checks
Police are facing a new obstacle in their efforts to stop impaired drivers this holiday season.
The Ontario police's RIDE program is in its fourth week and early numbers show they're catching more impaired drivers than last year.
However, even more could be avoiding the checks because Twitter users have started tweeting out their locations.
"If they're impaired and they're trying to avoid the police then they'll be using that tool if they have access to it," said Const. Eric Booth of the OPP. "They will use it to their advantage and that can be fatal."
A recent incident in Toronto started the discussion about tweeting out RIDE locations, as one tweet spread quickly throughout the social networking site.
Police said the practice isn't illegal but could be considered morally wrong.
"It's no different than you picking up a phone and calling somebody and saying the police are out in this location," Booth said. "The only difference is hundreds of people get the message than just the one or two."
One social media expert said police could take to Twitter to communicate with those tweeters.
"They should be replying back, not just ignoring it . . . replying back as to resources for people" said Barbara Munshaw.
She said those resources could include alternatives to drinking and driving or stories of its consequences.
"So tweeting things like that in a reply . . . the people who did the tweet get new information they may not have considered," she said.
Across the province, OPP officers have already laid 455 impaired driving charges and suspended the licenses of 380 drivers in four weeks.
They charged 308 people with impaired driving over the entire span of the program last year.
Locally, Booth said Ottawa OPP officers have stopped 10,000 drivers and charged five, suspending seven more.
The RIDE program continues through New Year's weekend.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman
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