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Manitoba getting tougher on impaired drivers under new legislation

Justice minister Cliff Cullen announcing new, tougher penalties for drinking and driving.

Manitoba is cracking down on drunk driving with tough new legislation that will see even those who register a warning during a roadside face fines and the loss of their vehicle.

The new legislation, which will take affect Dec. 16, was announced Thursday.

“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 Justice Minister Cliff Cullen in a release.

Under the new rules drivers registering a blood alcohol content of .05 to .079 on a roadside test will be fined $400 for a first offence, $500 for a second, and $600 for any subsequent warnings.

Those drivers registering a warning will also see their vehicles impounded for three, seven or 30 days for their first, second, and subsequent violations, and be forced to install an ignition interlock system after a third violation.

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READ MORE: Winnipeg police officer sentenced to 30 months in driving death of pedestrian

Drivers will also lose their licence for three days upon registering a warning, and up to 60 days for subsequent offences.

The government is calling the new approach “immediate roadside prohibition”, a system that’s been in effect in British Columbia since 2010.

“Immediate roadside prohibition ensures on-the-spot consequences for making the poor decision to drink and drive,” said Cullen.

“The consequences are clear – impaired drivers will lose their licence, their vehicle and face significant financial penalties.”

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Penalties for those who fail a roadside test — either registering .08 or higher or refusing to take the test altogether— are also set to stiffen under the new rules.

First time offences not involving death, bodily harm or other aggravating circumstances will face a $700 fine and mandatory use of an ignition interlock system.

READ MORE: Manitoba First Nations Police Service officer charged with drunk driving

They’ll also get an immediate three-month licence suspension and have their vehicles impounded for 30 to 60 days.

“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 Manitoba RCMP assistant commissioner, Jane MacLatchy in the government’s release.

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“Without a doubt, the immediate roadside suspensions will be a powerful tool that will help our officers to quickly remove impaired drivers from Manitoba roads, making our highways and roadways safer for all.”

The government said the immediate roadside prohibition has reduced alcohol-related deaths by 50 per cent in British Columbia over the last nine years.

Last year 70 people were killed and 437 were seriously hurt in crashes on Manitoba roadways. The province said 40 per cent of those fatalities were related to drunk driving.

So far this year 10 people have been killed because of drunk drivers, according to the province.

Manitoba RCMP getting new tools to combat drunk driving
Manitoba RCMP getting new tools to combat drunk driving