Tougher penalties for drunk drivers
All convicted drunk drivers will now need to blow into an ignition interlock device to start their vehicles
An ignition interlock installed in a car.
WINNIPEG – As of Saturday, December 15, 2012, all convicted drunk drivers, even first-timers, will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles if they want to drive legally in Manitoba. Justice Minister Andrew Swan announced the tougher penalties on December 13.
“Manitoba is once again setting the pace in the battle against drinking and driving,” said Swan. “Expansion of the mandatory ignition interlock program sends an even stronger message that impaired driving is not acceptable in Manitoba and will not be tolerated.”
An ignition interlock is a device that a driver must breathe into before starting a vehicle. If an amount of alcohol is detected over a pre-set limit, the vehicle will not start. Interlocks in Manitoba will also require random breath samples while a driver is at the wheel. It is hoped that this will make it more difficult to defeat the system by having another person blow into the device.
The new law expands Manitoba’s mandatory ignition interlock program, which until now applied only to drivers who were granted conditional licensing during an active alcohol-related suspension, repeat convicted offenders or first offences with aggravating factors such as bodily injury, death or impaired driving with a child passenger.
“Alcohol interlocks are effective in reducing impaired driving deaths and injuries,” said Andrew Murie, chief executive officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada. “They also play a key role in reducing recidivism rates for impaired drivers.”
Mandatory use of an ignition interlock will be:
• one year for the first and second conviction,
• three years for the third conviction, and
• lifetime for the fourth and subsequent convictions.
Swan said the relatively small number of drivers who now have an ignition interlock device could jump to about 2,000 drivers in the first year. In addition to any fines and penalties, convicted drunk drivers will be responsible to pay the expense of installing, maintaining and removing the devices, which is about $2,000 per year.
“Manitoba is committed to ending impaired driving in our province,” said Swan. “This serves notice that drinking and driving will not be tolerated on Manitoba’s roads and highways.”