The annual RCMP Holiday Checkstop Program begins today in our province.
Sergeant Mark Hume says from December 1st through January 2nd, motorists in our province can expect to see check stops at any time and any location throughout Manitoba. He says check stops will likely be a little bit more frequent on weekends.
Hume says officers will largely be targeting impaired driving, either from alcohol or drugs. However, he notes in the process, they usually spot other traffic offences, such as suspended or prohibited drivers.
According to Hume, the RCMP Holiday Check stop Program has been running for a couple of decades. He notes they choose this time of year to run the program because there is typically more alcohol consumed at this time of the year because of all the parties.
"Just trying to make sure everyone is safe for the Christmas holiday," he adds. "We do various things throughout the summer to kind of target the holiday time then. This is just something specific to the Christmas and New Years' time."
Hume says someone caught driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher (80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood) is potentially looking at criminal charges or at minimum a three-month driving prohibition. He adds if that person is convicted in court, it is a minimum of a one-year driving prohibition. Minimum fines are well over $1,000 and there is a minimum 30-day vehicle impoundment and various administrative penalties.
"Generally speaking, you are talking several hundreds of dollars and multiple months of a license suspension and a month or two of a vehicle impound," he adds.
Meanwhile, Hume says over the last five years there have been 79 deaths annually in our province on roadways. And, between 40 and 45 per cent of roadway deaths are caused by impaired driving. This year, already 100 people have died on Manitoba roadways, making it one of the deadliest years over the last two decades.
Hume says there are many other options for getting home if you have had a drink. He suggests calling a taxi, asking a friend or using Operation Red Nose.
"There's just really no excuse for driving impaired anymore," he says.
And, if there are no other options for getting home safely, Hume says if you are heading to a party, you may need to refrain from drinking alcohol.
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