Caught Driving Impaired? A Vehicle Breathalyzer Will be Mandatory

By Sarah Klein

The Manitoba government is getting tough on those who drink and drive — even if it’s their first conviction.

Beginning Saturday, December 15, anyone caught driving impaired will have to get an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle.

The device requires the driver to provide a breath sample into the breathalyzer. If the system detects alcohol, the vehicle won’t start. Random breath samples will also be required when the vehicle is running.

“Manitoba is once again setting the pace in the battle against drinking and driving,” said Justice Minister Andrew Swan. “Expansion of the mandatory ignition interlock program sends an even stronger message that impaired driving is not acceptable in Manitoba and will not be tolerated.”

The device will be required so convicted drivers can drive legally following their license suspension.

Until now, the interlock program only affected repeat convicted offenders or first offences with aggravating factors, such as bodily injury/death or impaired driving with a child passenger.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada applauded the government’s move.

“Alcohol interlocks are effective in reducing impaired driving deaths and injuries,” said MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie. “They also play a key role in reducing recidivism rates for impaired drivers. MADD Canada is very pleased that the Province of Manitoba is moving forward with a mandatory alcohol interlock program as part of its strategy to crack down on impaired driving.”

The mandatory ignition interlock term lengths are:

  • One year for the first conviction
  • One year for the second conviction
  • Three years for the third conviction
  • Lifetime for the fourth and subsequent convictions.