York Regional Police say a 39-year-old Stouffville man is lucky to be alive after he was spotted in a rural area of Markham allegedly driving with almost four times the legal limit for blood alcohol content.

Police released chopper footage of his black Dodge sedan being followed on the afternoon of Dec. 28 as they warned that impaired arrests in the region have risen from 868 in 2013 to 1,249 in 2017, a 44 per cent increase.

That afternoon, police said a citizen called 911 reporting the vehicle was “all over the road” in the area of Elgin Mills Road between McCowan Road and Ninth Line.

The police helicopter Air2 arrived and followed the vehicle as it veered across the centre line several times and brushed against the shoulder and the ditch.

The vehicle was later stopped and the driver allegedly blew almost .280. He was charged with over 80 and impaired operation of a motor vehicle.

Police said Wednesday that 13 per cent of those stoppedfor impaired driving last year, roughly 162 drivers, blew more than .200 and at least one motorist blew more than .300 and was immediately hospitalized.

“These incredibly disappointing numbers must serve as a wake-up call that something has to change,” YRP Chief Eric Jolliffe said in a news release.

“We will continue to use education, enforcement and every tool in our disposal in our fight against impaired driving.”

Joliffe also warned that this rise in impaired driving incidents is occurring as the federal government is moving to legalize personal use of marijuana.

Drug-impaired driving incidents in York Region rose 90 per cent from 2015 to 2017, police said.

“It’s alarming that prior to the pending legalization of marijuana we are seeing this spike of drivers impaired by drugs.”

While impaired arrests rose by 44 per cent over the past four years, York Region’s population grew by 7.5 per cent between 2011 and 2016, according to federal census data.