Calgary police expand impaired driving checks
In December 2018, as part of Bill C-46, Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) came into effect. Since then, citizens who entered a Checkstop or were pulled over by Traffic Section police officers have been asked to provide a preliminary breath sample from within their own vehicle.
“Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death in Canada,” said Const. Andrew Fairman, with the Alcohol and Drug Recognition Unit. “We all want to do our part to reduce the tragic impact of impaired driving.”
The Calgary Police Service is expanding the use of MAS Approved Screening Devices to all frontline police officers. To comply with this federal legislation, all drivers in Calgary can now expect to provide a breath sample when they are pulled over by Calgary police for a traffic stop or Checkstop.
Since CPS started conducting MAS just over one year ago, more than 15,600 samples have been taken, resulting in 142 Criminal Code charges and 359 provincial sanctions.
What is Mandatory Alcohol Screening?
Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) refers to Criminal Code Section 320.27(2) in which a police officer who has an approved screening device on hand, is able to test a breath sample of any driver they lawfully stop, even without reasonable suspicion that the driver has alcohol in their body.
For more information about the recent changes to Canada’s impaired driving laws, go to the Government of Canada’s website.
MAS has been authorized in over 40 countries worldwide, including Australia, New Zealand, Austria, France, Germany, Ireland and Sweden. Authorities in Ireland credit mandatory screening for reducing the number of deaths by approximately 40 per cent in the first four years after it was enacted.
In Canada in 2015, 718 people were seriously injured or killed in impaired driving incidents. Reducing this by 40 per cent would mean 287 Canadians would not have had their lives significantly altered due to impaired driving.
What does this mean for Calgary drivers?
When drivers enter a Checkstop or a traffic stop with MAS, officers will approach the driver and say, “This is a Mandatory Alcohol Screening. You are required to immediately provide a breath sample.” The officer will then commence instruction on how to provide a breath sample by blowing into the Approved Screening Device (ASD). The test takes less than two minutes. Drivers will be asked to blow into a straw attached to the device and the results register right away.
Drivers will remain in their vehicles for the initial breath screening and will be asked to follow the officer’s directions. Once a driver is cleared, no alcohol is present, the regular traffic stop process will commence with the officer requesting the driver’s licence, registration and proof of insurance.