Friday, May 24, 2024

Drivers could face mandatory alcohol screening during traffic stops in Ottawa, police warn

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Ottawa police warn drivers pulled over for a traffic stop may be asked to provide a breath sample, as the service continues to see a rise in impaired drivers on the roads.

Newly released statistics show 260 drivers were charged with impaired-driving related offences on Ottawa roads in the first four months of this year. A total of 885 people were charged with impaired driving in 2023.

Police say officers will continue to “proactively patrol” Ottawa’s roads, and officers may ask drivers to participate in mandatory alcohol screening during traffic stops.

“If you are pulled over for a traffic stop, an officer may ask you to provide a sample into an approved screening device,” Acting Sgt. Amy Gagnon said in a media release.

“Under Canada’s Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) law, drivers must comply with a police officer’s demand for a sample, even in the absence of any suspicion that they have consumed alcohol. Officers are also trained to request drivers to submit to a series of roadside tests if they suspect that the driver is impaired by drugs.”

Last week, the Ontario Provincial Police announced the implementation of the mandatory alcohol screening in all traffic stops in the Greater Toronto Area, following a nearly 30 per cent increase in impaired-driving related collisions.

The OPP said that if drivers refuse to provide a breath sample, they will be criminally charged.

Previously, officers only requested alcohol testing when they had reason to suspect a driver was under the influence.

Ottawa police are reminding drivers not to get behind the wheel if they are impaired.

“Driving while impaired, more commonly known as ‘drinking and driving’, also includes driving under the influence of any drugs,” police said. 

“While cannabis is legal in Canada, consuming it and driving remains illegal. There is no circumstance where it is acceptable to consume cannabis or other drugs and get behind the wheel. Decisions like these not only endanger yourself as a driver, but everyone around you, including other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and more.”

The mandatory alcohol screening is used around the world and have proven results, according to police.

With files from CTV News Toronto’s Brooklyn Connolly

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