Since Dec. 18, 2018, officers with Stony Plain, Spruce Grove and Enoch RCMP have made 13 arrests for impaired driving; nine of which came from the new mandatory alcohol screening legislation.
The new rules surrounding mandatory alcohol screening (MAS) came into effect on Dec. 18, 2018.
The changes, brought in under Bill-C46, mean law enforcement across the country can demand a breathalyzer test even if a motorist is showing no signs of alcohol impairment. Before then, police officers needed reasonable grounds to conduct a breath test, such as bloodshot eyes, slurring, the smell of alcohol, a driver stumbling or admitting they’d been drinking.
“As long as a police officer has the device with them, we can demand a breath sample, as long as we’ve lawfully pulled them over,” Const. Shelley Nasheim, with Stony Plain RCMP, said.
“We can’t just randomly pull people over and force them to have a breath test. There has to be a reason. We have to have a lawful excuse.
“Our members have been doing that and we’ve had some successes and actually some positive feedback from the public.”
WATCH BELOW (Oct. 17, 2018) Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale discusses the tools that law enforcement will be using to combat impaired driving now that cannabis is legal.
In a news release Thursday, Stony Plain RCMP explained they’ve been pulling drivers over for various traffic offences but, because of the new rules, some people are getting more than just traffic tickets.
“Between Dec. 18, 2018 and Jan. 23, 2019, drivers provided breath samples that ranged in blood alcohol concentration from the legal limit of 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood to 180 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, to one case of more than four times the legal limit,” RCMP said.
One case in particular stood out to police. It involved a woman who police said blew four times over the legal limit while driving with her children in the vehicle.
RCMP were responding to an unrelated collision in Spruce Grove on Jan. 20.
“While on scene, they had this driver go by, a traffic infraction — she bumped one of the pylons,” Nasheim said. “They stopped her, demanded a breath sample under the mandatory alcohol screening. She failed, and when she was brought back to the detachment and they gave her the breath demand, she blew over four times the legal limit.”
“We no longer have to look for the signs of impairment,” Nasheim explained.
“Some of these people that typically, maybe in the past, wouldn’t have displayed some of these signs… Now we’re finding them and getting them off the roads.
“That’s the goal — to get the impaired drivers off our roads and keep the public and our community safe.”
WATCH BELOW: Dec. 5, 2018: The federal government is bringing in a strict new law later this month that will give police broad new powers against impaired drivers. Whitney Oickle reports.