Starting on December 16th tougher and timelier consequences for drinking and driving will come into effect in Manitoba.

The new consequences will see drivers lose their vehicles for registering a “warn” on an approved screening device.

A “warn” is a blood alcohol content of .05 to .079, getting caught with this will result in a monetary penalty of $400 for a first violation, escalating to $500 for a second violation and $600 for a third or subsequent violation. Your vehicle will also be impounded for three days for a first violation, seven days for a second, or 30 days for a third or subsequent violation.

Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said that these new measures will make sure impaired drivers will know that driving impaired is not acceptable.

“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 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.”

The new approach, called immediate roadside prohibition is aimed at providing a faster alternative to the breathalyzer test and resolving matters outside of the criminal justice system for drivers who refuse or fail a sobriety test the first time.

The new protocol is not intended to be used in cases where an impaired driver kills or injures another person or if there are other significant aggravating circumstances.

For first time drivers who register a “fail” – any BAC over .08 or a refusal- on a sobriety test, and cause no bodily injury or death, police 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.

The new sanctions would compare to those applied post-conviction and would be applied on top of the existing pre-conviction 90-day licence suspension, 30-day vehicle impoundment and mandatory remedial programming.

People who refuse the roadside screening will be treated as them failing the test, and their car will be impounded for up to 60 days.

A “warn” reading will result in the driver receiving 5 demerits on their licence, increasing to up to 10 for a “fail” or a refusal.

Under the new approach, testing a suspected impaired driver can take as little as six minutes, rather than the up to four hours that the old system required.

The commanding officer of the Manitoba RCMP, Jane MacLatchy, said that the new protocol will make roads safer.

“Collisions caused by impaired drivers continue to kill and cause significant injuries to far too many Manitobans. These collisions are entirely preventable and it’s time we look at new ways of getting these dangerous drivers off our roads,” said MacLatchy. “Without a doubt, the immediate roadside suspensions will be a powerful tool that will help our officer to quickly remove impaired drivers from Manitoba roads, making our highways and roadways safer for all.”

Adding up all the administrative sanctions and fines, the minimum cost for a first time “warn” will be $700, with a third violation costing a minimum of $3.420.

The minimum cost for registering a “fail” will be $3,520, and the minimum cost for a refusal will be $3,970.

MPI will launch an education program focused on impaired driving and the immediate roadside prohibition approach later this month.

Manitoba isn’t the first province to launch such protocol; B.C. launched the approach in 2010, and it has been credited with saving 351 lives and reducing alcohol-related injuries and collisions by 50%.

In 2018, 70 people were killed and 437 people were seriously injured in collisions in Manitoba. Impaired driving accounted for 40 percent of those killed. This year alone, 10 people have been killed by drunk driving.

For more information on the new roadside approach, you can go to the government’s website.