During the holiday season, Morden Police will be holding their MPI sponsored Road Watch program targeting impaired driving.
Generally, in the Morden area, there aren't many people that drive impaired, but every year there is a certain number that is stopped for being under the influence says Morden Police Chief Brad Neduzak.
"These programs through MPI, what it does is allows officers to come in on their own time to focus exclusively on traffic enforcement. . . whether it be for cell phone usage or looking for impaired drivers."
MPI covers the overtime wages of the officers, allowing them to patrol their communities during their off-duty hours.
In 2017, 73 people were killed, and 442 were seriously injured in traffic collisions in Manitoba. Drunk driving accounted for 32 percent of those killed and six percent of those injured. Already this year, 28 people have lost their lives because of a drunk driver.
For first time drunk drivers that register a 'fail' on an approved screening device, which indicates a blood alcohol content over .08, who cause no bodily injury or death, police would have the discretion to impose a new monetary penalty of at least $500 as well as a mandatory ignition interlock of one year rather than proceeding with a criminal charge. The new sanctions would be comparable to those applied post-conviction and would be applied on top of the existing pre-conviction 90-day licence suspension, 30-day vehicle impoundment and mandatory Addictions Foundation of Manitoba assessment or remedial program required for all first-time drunk drivers with a BAC over .08 on a breathalyzer test.
Neduzak says they will be out in the community full force and says anyone that is planning on consuming cannabis or alcohol to make arrangements before they decide to get behind the wheel and drive.
Meanwhile, the Province of Manitoba brought in stiffer penalties to reduce the amount of distracted driving, but Justice Minister Cliff Cullen says some people still aren’t getting the message.
Cullen says too many people are still driving distracted. “Clearly the message isn’t getting through to some people. We brought in tougher penalties in hopes of deterring people from distracted driving and motorists need to realize there are consequences to driving and not paying attention to the roadways.”
Cullen said it’s a good time to remind Manitobans not to be distracted when behind the wheel.
“Again it is the holiday season and people shouldn’t be drinking and driving.”