Calgary, AB,

Mandatory Alcohol Screening comes into effect today

Today, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, Part 2 of Bill C-46, Mandatory Alcohol Screening, comes into effect.

What is Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS)?

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 MAS mean for Calgary drivers?

The Calgary Police Service will begin applying MAS at all Checkstops beginning the week of Dec. 18. All drivers who enter a Checkstop will be asked to provide a preliminary breath sample from within their own vehicle.

To comply with the federal legislation for MAS, officers in the Traffic Section will begin applying MAS to traffic stops early in the New Year.

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 Alcohol Screening Device (ASD). 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.

“We all want to do our part to reduce the tragic impact of impaired driving. We want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday season,” says Drug Recognition Expert, Constable Andrew Fairman. “Impaired driving is impaired driving, no matter the substance.”