Essex County is one of the worst regions in Ontario for impaired driving charges, according to provincial police statistics from 2023.

OPP reported 247 incidents last year resulting in 367 impaired-related charges laid by Essex County OPP officers.

That makes Essex County the fourth worst in impaired driving occurrences compared to the rest of the OPP-patrolled regions of Ontario.

Out of the five fatal crashes in 2023, one was linked to impaired driving and two others were noted as being alcohol/drug related.

Another 14 crashes had non-fatal injuries linked to impaired driving, and an additional seven other crashes were noted as being alcohol or drug related.

Chaouki Hamka, community leader for Mothers Against Drunk Driving Windsor and Essex County, tells AM800 News he was taken aback by the numbers.

"Overall in the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Windsor-Essex, Essex in general, we've had high numbers but not to this extent. It was very surprising to see those kind of numbers," he says.

Constable Steven Duguay says Essex County was one of the top OPP detachments in 2023 in performing 920 RIDE checks.

"Our members know the importance to keeping these drivers off the road. Our members would rather be pulling impaired drivers off the road than responding to a crash involving an impaired driving resulting in an injury or fatality," he says.

Hamka says the numbers don't always scare him because he knows police are out there tackling impaired driving.

"More people are calling in, you have a lot of the public calling in, 911, to report suspected impaired drivers. Collaboratively, we're working as a team. Whether it's an organization, policing, the general public, we're working as a team to get impaired driving on the map to make sure people are getting caught before a crash happens," he says.

OPP Essex County includes the communities of Essex, Lakeshore, Tecumseh, Kingsville and Leamington.

With files from AM800's Rusty Thomson.