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Manitoba Implementing Tougher Drinking and Driving Penalties

November 7, 2019 6:17 PM | News

Impaired Driving

(Impaired driving image via Shutterstock)

WINNIPEG — Tougher penalties will come into effect December 16 for those who choose to drink and drive in Manitoba.

The province is implementing immediate roadside vehicle impoundment and license suspensions for drivers who register a “warn” level (blood alcohol content of .05 to .079) on an approved screening device.

Aside from losing your vehicle and license, a $400 fine will also be applied for a first offence. Monetary penalties increase to $500 for a second violation and $600 for a third or subsequent violation.

Vehicle impoundment timeframes also increase, from three days for a first violation, seven days for a second, or 30 days for a third or subsequent violation.

“Impaired drivers are still taking the lives of Manitobans and we need to do more to make sure people get the message that this is unacceptable,” said Justice Minister Cliff Cullen.

“Immediate roadside prohibition ensures on-the-spot consequences for making the poor decision to drink and drive. The consequences are clear — impaired drivers will lose their licence, their vehicle and face significant financial penalties.”

For first-time impaired drivers who register a “fail” (blood alcohol content at or over 0.08) and cause no bodily injury or death, police will have the discretion to impose a $700 fine as well as a mandatory ignition interlock of one year rather than proceeding with a criminal charge.

Individuals who refuse the screening will face the same sanctions as a “fail,” with vehicle impoundment extending to 60 days. In addition, a “warn” reading will result in the driver receiving five demerits on their Manitoba Public Insurance driver safety rating scale, increasing to 10 demerits for either a “fail” or refusal.

The province says the new immediate roadside prohibition rules can test suspected impaired drivers in as little as six minutes, as opposed to administering a breathalyzer test and processing a driver for criminal charges, which can take up to four hours.

The new, tougher penalties are being applauded by MADD Canada.

“Having quick, strong, short-term sanctions offers a powerful deterrent to those who might otherwise drive impaired,” said Andrew Murie, CEO, MADD Canada.

“We welcome these new provisions, and thank the government for its leadership in helping to reduce impaired driving and make roads safer.”

Ten people have lost their lives on Manitoba roads this year due to impaired driving, according to data from the province.

A Manitoba-wide public education campaign is being rolled out by MPI later this month to inform motorists of the tougher approach to impaired driving.