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Rules on RCMP breath samples from drivers change on Tuesday

A file photo of Yellowknife's RCMP detachment
A file photo of Yellowknife's RCMP detachment. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

On December 18, RCMP will be able to start conducting Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) on drivers.

Under Bill C-46, NWT police said in a news release on Monday, they can request a breath sample from any driver lawfully stopped following an observed infraction, like not stopping at a stop sign, or during a traffic check stop.

RCMP advise refusal to provide a breath sample carries the same, or greater, penalty as impaired driving.

“With this new legislation, citizens of the Northwest Territories who are operating a motor vehicle, including an ATV or a snow machine, can expect to be requested to provide a breath sample by our members at any lawful stop or check stop,” said RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon.



“Over the course of the holidays you can expect our members to be out enforcing traffic laws, including traffic check stops.”

RCMP in the Northwest Territories will also have the ability to test for drug-impaired driving on suspicion. In their statement, RCMP named the two options available to them: a Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST) or Drug Recognition Expert (DRE).

Operation Gingerbread

In early December, RCMP announced they were running three traffic enforcement projects in the territory for the holiday season.

One of these programs is Operation Gingerbread, which combines traffic enforcement patrols and check stops throughout the holidays in an effort to prevent impaired driving.



At least two drivers have already been caught during Operation Gingerbread, which runs until January 1.

On December 6, a 47-year-old Fort Smith man was charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle and impaired operation over .08 under sections 253(1)(a) and 253(1)(b) of the Criminal Code.

“A snowmobile was observed travelling at a high rate of speed through the local school zone,” wrote RCMP in a media release.

“A traffic stop was initiated and the male was discovered to be operating the machine while impaired, with breath samples almost three times the legal limit of .08.”

The Fort Smith man was arrested and then released with a court appearance scheduled for March 11.

The same week, in Fort Liard, RCMP charged a woman with impaired driving and caught three vehicles bootlegging alcohol into the community.

Three men and three women were alleged to be involved in the smuggling of alcohol. Charges are pending.

“Fort Liard is a restricted community and the quantity of liquor that a person may possess or bring over the border from BC is strictly limited by the Northwest Territories Liquor Act,” stated York-Condon.

“Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of injury and death on Canada’s roads. It is completely avoidable and preventable. Choose to get home safely and don’t drive impaired.”