Edmonton

New impaired driving laws taking drunk drivers off the road, RCMP say

The new mandatory alcohol screening law is proving effective in taking impaired drivers off the road, say RCMP west of Edmonton.

'It's great that we now have this option that we can find these people and get them off the roads'

A new law allows police across Canada to demand a breathalyzer test from any driver pulled over for violating traffic laws, or at a check stop. (CBC)

The new mandatory alcohol screening law is proving effective in taking impaired drivers off the road, say RCMP.

Members of the Stony Plain/Spruce Grove/Enoch RCMP detachment made 13 arrests for impaired driving between Dec. 18, 2018, when the new law came into effect, and Jan. 23, 2019.

Nine of the arrests were made under the new mandatory alcohol screening legislation, police stated in a news release Thursday.

The new mandatory alcohol testing, part of Bill C-46, allows police to demand a breathalyzer test from any driver pulled over for violating traffic laws, or at a check stop.

One of the recent arrests involved what RCMP describe as an "extreme case."

On Jan. 20, RCMP pulled over a woman with her children in the vehicle.

Officers were at the scene of a collision in Spruce Grove, Alta., when they stopped the woman for a traffic infraction, Const. Shelley Nasheim said Thursday.

There was no suspicion of impairment, but officers administered a roadside test, which the woman failed, she said.

The woman was then taken to the RCMP detachment where a breathalyzer test was done.

"She actually blew a .383, which is over four times the legal limit," Nasheim said.

The maximum legal blood alcohol concentration is .08, or 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

"My personal experience has been that there are people out there that, they're alcoholics, they're functioning alcoholics. So I wish that it surprised me but it doesn't," Nasheim said.

Response 'favourable'

Being stopped by police may create a brief inconvenience for drivers legally using the roads, but the new law is contributing "to saving thousands of lives in Canada every year," Insp. Mike Lokken stated in the release.

Most drivers don't mind the inconvenience, he said.

"Members are reporting favourable comments from residents during our continuing check stops," Lokken said.

The recent statistics indicate the new law is having a positive effect, Nasheim said.

"It's great that we now have this option that we can find these people and get them off the roads and keep the community safe," she said.