WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government’s new approach to getting impaired drivers off the streets, starts Monday, December 16th.

The approach is called ‘immediate roadside prohibition, ’ and the intent is to get some impaired drivers off the road more quickly, using administrative means rather than court proceedings.

Under the new approach, testing a suspected impaired driver can take as little as six minutes. 

This is significantly less than the time required to administer a breathalyzer test and process an impaired driver for criminal charges, which is often up to four hours. 

Under the new amendments to the Highway Traffic Act, drivers who register ‘Warning’ on a roadside test, whether by blood or breathalyzer (blood alcohol content of .05 to .079) will face a fine of $400 for a first violation, $500 for a second or $600 for third or subsequent offenses.

Drivers who register warning threshold will also see their driver’s license suspended for three days on the first violation, up to 60 days. 

They’ll be referred to an Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM) program if there have been two or more violations within 10 years and they’ll pay a $50 driver’s license reinstatement fee.

Drivers who test at or over the ‘Fail’ level (blood alcohol content at or over 0.08) or those who refuse to be tested by police at the roadside, will face new penalties, which apply for first-time offenses not involving bodily harm, death or other significant aggravating circumstances. 

They’ll pay an automatic $700 fine and a $50 driver’s licence reinstatement fee.

They’ll face an immediate roadside driver’s license suspension of three months, and will have to use an ignition interlock for one year. 

At the more serious level of offence, a vehicle may be impounded for 30 or 60 days. 

Drivers will also be referred to an AFM assessment or remedial program. 

The traditional option of criminal charges remains an option for serious cases involving injury or death or if there are other aggravating factors. 

B.C. has had similar rules since 2019 and they’ve been credited with saving 351 lives and reducing alcohol-related deaths by 50 per cent.

With files from Danton Unger and Josh Crabb