SAULT STE. MARIE – The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service is reminding the public to celebrate the holiday responsibly with the launch of the annual Festive Ride campaign.

"We want people to think before they go out that we are out there and make sure they have a plan in place of how they're getting home if they are drinking," said Sergeant Ray Magnan, Sault Ste. Mare Police Services.

While this campaign targets the holidays, police say impaired driving charges locally remain fairly consistent throughout the year with an average of between three to five charges a month.

Last December, a new law was passed that allows police to demand a breath sample from a driver, even without reasonable suspicion they have been drinking.

"People are smoking in the car or there might be air fresheners in the car and it may be hard for the officer to sense the smell of alcohol coming off the driver's breath. Where with the mandatory screening testing, we can test that driver right away," explained Sergeant Michael Wreggit, OPP.

The police also have a test for a driver's saliva to detect THC.

Magnan says the test "only detects the presence, not the level, so that's primarily used for our G1 and G2 drivers, drivers under the age of 22 or commercial drivers who can have no presence in their system whatsoever."

Police Chief Hugh Stevenson says he thinks the current penalties are reasonable for the circumstances as "every situation has mitigating and aggravating circumstances that I know the courts take into account. The bottom line though is that if you're convicted of impaired driving in this province, you're not allowed to drive a motor vehicle for a year after that and I think that sends a strong message to all of us."

He adds that educating the public is an important piece to putting an end to impaired driving altogether.

Police urge the public to call 911 if they suspect someone is driving impaired.