WINNIPEG — Drivers who choose to drive impaired in Manitoba could soon face stiffer penalties.
The provincial government is increasing the fines motorists are slapped with if caught distracted driving or with alcohol in their system above .05.
“While Manitoba has made positive progress in reducing impaired-related collisions and deaths, we are committed to going even further in the battle against impaired drivers because even one collision or fatality caused by an impaired driver is one too many,” said Attorney General Gord Mackintosh.
The proposed legislation also includes a driving suspension of 72 hours — up from 24. If a child under 16 were in the vehicle, the suspension would run seven days.
The bill would take effect July 1, 2015 and see harsher penalties for using a hand-held electronic device. A driver’s safety rating would drop five levels. Currently, such a conviction results in two demerits.
This proposed change would result in drivers with already poor driving records paying as much as $3,200 in additional costs.
CAA Manitoba — having always been an advocate for tougher penalties against drivers who break the law — applauded Thursday’s announcement.
“Since the legislation was first introduced, we have always said you can’t close to the door on making changes until people change their behaviour,” said Mike Mager, president and CEO of CAA Manitoba. “It’s clear many people continue to text and drive, that’s why we are pleased to see more demerits being added to this penalty.”
The proposed legislation would also remove a loophole that currently allows some people convicted of impaired driving to avoid having breathalyzers installed on their vehicle’s ignition.
The bill contains other minor changes, including a requirement for police officers to notify the motor vehicle registry when someone was convicted of a serious offence.
— With files from The Canadian Press