CALGARY -- Calgary police is expanding its mandatory alcohol screening program, meaning all drivers can expect to blow into a roadside device when pulled over or going through a Checkstop.

Mandatory alcohol screening (MAS) came into effect in December 2018 as part of Bill C-46, which meant police could ask any driver to provide a preliminary breath sample when pulled over.

The expansion will see all frontline officers with Calgary Police Service issued with roadside screening devices.

Police say roadside screening takes less than two minutes. Drivers will be asked to blow into a straw attached to the device and the results will register right away.

If alcohol is detected, further testing will be done. If not, police will proceed with the stop as usual.

Eight memebrs of the CPS traffic unit have been doing mandatory alcohol screenings for about the last year, said Const. Andrew Fairman with the Alcohol and Drug Recognition Unit, and that is being expanded to all frontline officers, which he said numbers around 200 at any given time.

Since MAS was started in Calgary just over a year ago, more than 15,600 samples have been taken, resulting in 142 charges and 359 provincial sanctions.

"Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death in Canada," said Fairman.

"We all want to do our part to reduce the tragic impact of impaired driving." 

Up to now, CPS had about 160 roadside screening devices in use, which has been nearly doubled to about 300, said Fairman.

Mandatory alcohol screening allows officers to test any driver that is lawfully stopped, even without reasonable suspicion of alcohol.

MAS has been authorized in more than 40 countries worldwide, including

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Austria
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Sweden

In Canada in 2015, 718 people were seriously injured or killed in impaired driving incidents.