RCMP reminds motorists to be safe and smart this holiday season

It's important to drive safe, and smart, this holiday season. The RCMP will be out doing their holiday check-stops soon. (file photo) File Photo

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Carman area RCMP want to make sure drivers are being safe and smart this holiday season while on Manitoba roadways as we approach holiday check-stop season.

“We’re expected to increase our presence on the roads and as we do every year with some holiday check stops starting later this month,” said RCMP Constable, Olivier Godin, with the Morden RCMP Detachment. “If you plan on drinking or using cannabis, don’t drive. It’s not worth it. There are a lot of options to ensure safe travel including friends, taxis, red nose. Be safe this holiday season.”

RCMP across Manitoba are prepared for the holiday season equipped with roadside breath testing equipment for alcohol-impaired driving. Currently, officers will have to use their own judgement as roadside testing for cannabis or other drug impairment, but constable Godin says hospitals in the area will cooperate when officers do need a blood sample.

“We’re expecting close to no wait times at hospitals while attending for blood demands,” said Constable Godin. “Officers are aware of their new authorities and are expected to be trained in Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and on the new Oral Fluid Device when it becomes available.”

It’s not just drinking or smoking and driving that can end you up in hot water. Godin reminds motorists to properly store their cannabis and alcohol when travelling.

“Carrying cannabis comes with offences similar to the open liquor offences that have been in effect for years,” he said. “The cannabis or alcohol should not be within arm’s reach of the driver and should be stored in the trunk if possible.”

Manitoba’s DUI consequences have changed recently with stricter penalties to those that register a warning level on the roadside screening device. Drivers that have a blood alcohol level of between .05 and .08 will now pay $200 for a first offence and up to $400 for a third offence. 73 people were killed and over 400 seriously injured in traffic collisions in Manitoba in 2017 as announced by the Manitoba government and 32 per cent of those killed were through drunk driving.

Local RCMP detachments are set to see a slight increase in calls for other situations this December with holiday parties planned throughout the month. Godin adds they haven’t had many calls about cannabis since legalization but people need to remember it is legal if bought from proper vendors and transported correctly.

“Neighbours smoking cannabis in their yard, they are technically smoking it legally and it’s understandable that the odour is not the best as it being often described as smelling like that of a skunk,” adds Godin. “The first step to try to solve the problem would be to talk to your neighbour about their cannabis use and try to work towards a mutual solution together to prevent the problem from reoccurring.”

28 people have been killed because of a drunk driver this year. Be safe and smart this holiday season.