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Calgary police change check stop tactics due to new mandatory alcohol screening laws

WATCH: Calgary police have had to change locations of check stops because of new mandatory alcohol screening laws. Michael King has more.

It’s a message heard time and time again: don’t drink and drive.

Calgary police were enforcing that message Friday night with enhanced check stops across the city.

READ MORE: How many drinks is too many under new impaired driving rules?

New mandatory alcohol screening laws came into effect in December, meaning officers can demand a breath sample from any driver.

Before that law was passed, officers had to have a reasonable suspicion that the person was impaired.

Calgary police conducted breathalyzer tests on Friday.
Calgary police conducted breathalyzer tests on Friday. Michael King / Global News

Sgt. Spencer Rusk said the new rules mean check stops are more time-consuming for Calgary police. He said the traffic unit has had to change how and where the traffic stops are set up.

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“Some of the check stop locations we used to do in the past… just aren’t feasible,” said Rusk. “We go out and scout other locations and we make the adjustments.”

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Calgary police statistics show the mandatory testing has not led to more convictions, despite more roadside tests.

In January, 135 impaired driving and failure to comply charges were laid by Calgary police — that’s on par with numbers from 2018.

READ MORE: Calgary police search for impaired drivers with series of post-legalization checkstops

Rusk believes more people are making the right choice after a night spent drinking.

“If they’re drinking, they’re finding the other options to get home,” said Rusk. “They’re not taking the risk.”

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Although the mandatory breathalyzer test only checks for alcohol, police are reminding drivers that each check stop also has at least one officer trained in field sobriety testing. That means anyone suspected of driving high through a check stop will be screened as well.

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