Stricter sanctions for impaired driving now in effect
Cost of a warning ranges from $700 for first offenders to $3,420
Stiffer fines, mandatory ignition locks and more vehicle impoundment are some of the new sanctions impaired drivers in Manitoba will face starting Monday.
Immediate roadside prohibition, as the Manitoba government calls the initiative, sanctions drivers who register a "warn" level on a screening test, while providing an alternative to the court process for those who fail or refuse a breathalyzer, the province says.
"Immediate roadside prohibition means we will be able to take more impaired drivers off the road sooner," Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said in a news release.
"The strong sanctions in place are yet another good reason to make the right choice and never drive while impaired."
Under the new sanctions, a driver whose blood-alcohol level is between .05 to .079 — "warn" level — will face a fine from $700 for first offenders to $3,420 for a third offence, the news release says. They also will temporarily lose their vehicle for a period of three, seven or 30 days.
After a measuring third warning, drivers will be forced to install an ignition interlock system.
The minimum fine for a driver whose blood-alcohol level registers at or above the legal limit of 0.08 will be $3,520; the minimum fine for refusing a test will be $3,970.
Police will still have the option to lay criminal charges instead, if they feel they are warranted, provincial officials said.
RCMP said there were 26 people charged with impaired driving at checkstops during the first week of the force's annual checkstop program.
The highest blood alcohol content reading was 0.23 — nearly three times the legal limit.
Mounties also issued 15 roadside suspensions for alcohol or drug offences from Dec. 1-8, RCMP said. Another 141 Highway Traffic Act charges were laid, and 34 written warnings were issued.
RCMP believe alcohol was a factor in about a third of all vehicle collisions that resulted in someone's death in Manitoba this year.