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Thirty-three charged during Winnipeg police holiday checkstop program

Drinking driving
Winnipeg police charged 33 people with impaired driving related offences this holiday season. . File Photo / Getty Images

Thirty-three people were charged with impaired-driving-related offences during the Winnipeg Police Service‘s holiday checkstop program.

In total, police stopped 1,373 vehicles and administered 1,191 roadside breath tests over the holidays, according to a police news release.

Of those 1,191 breath tests, 20 people received warnings and 11 failed outright.

Just one person tested positive for cannabis, police say. Charges for that person are pending toxicology results.

Police issued five immediate roadside prohibitions after those people failed roadside breath tests.

Police also issued 27 traffic tickets during this year’s checkstop program.

READ MORE: Warning gets your car impounded: Manitoba’s new impaired driving laws now in effect

Winnipeg police stopped far fewer drivers this holiday season than during last year’s checkstop campaign. According to the Winnipeg police’s 2018 data, officers stopped 7,667 vehicles during its holiday checkstop program — a 6,294 drop year-to-year.

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Despite stopping fewer vehicles, police administered more tests. In 2018, police administered just 424 breath tests — 767 fewer than this year.

READ MORE: Manitoba’s new impaired driving laws problematic, Winnipeg lawyer says

New provincial impaired driving legislation came into effect in mid-December.

Under the new rules effective Dec. 16, drivers that register a blood alcohol content of .05 to .079 during a roadside test are fined $400 for a first offence, $500 for a second and $600 for any subsequent warnings.

Drivers registering a warning see their vehicles impounded for three, seven or 30 days for their first, second, and subsequent violations, and are forced to install an ignition interlock system (an in-car breath screening device) after a third violation.

On Nov. 8, Winnipeg Police Service Chief Danny Smyth announced a rollback in traffic enforcement and the checkstop program among other measures, as the service battled a spate of violent crime.

Advocacy organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada’s CEO Andrew Murie criticized that decision.

“If they would have stopped the same number of cars and tested well and above six thousand people, instead of over 1000, they probably would’ve had a couple hundred arrests. It would have really sent a message,” Murie said in a FaceTime interview.

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Police wouldn’t comment on the reason behind the number of offences.

“We did take an increasingly intelligence led approach in our deployment. A portion of this approach included the use mandatory alcohol screening,” the Winnipeg Police Service traffic division wrote in an email to Global News.

Mandatory breath screening, which allows police to demand a roadside test without reasonable suspicion, came into effect federally Dec. 18, 2018.

—With files from Erik Pindera

CheckStop changes coming to Winnipeg
CheckStop changes coming to Winnipeg