Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

More checks, but fewer arrests during holiday Checkstop

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THE Winnipeg Police Service stopped twice as many vehicles this past holiday season as they did during the 2011-12 Checkstop program, but still laid fewer charges related to impaired driving.

The police traffic unit stopped 4,069 vehicles as part of the 2012-13 Checkstop program and laid 43 charges for impaired driving, operating a vehicle over the blood-alcohol limit or refusing a blood-alcohol test, police announced Thursday.

In 2011-12, the traffic unit stopped 1,901 vehicles during the same period and laid 57 charges related to impaired driving. But it's unclear whether this means Winnipeg motorists have heeded calls to avoid driving while impaired, as there are differences in Checkstop program operations from year to year, said Const. Eric Hofley.

The average age of a person charged with an offence was roughly the same during both seasons -- 31 this year, versus 33 in 2011-12.

There also was not much of a change of the average blood-alcohol concentration of people charged with offences. The average impaired driver police nabbed this year had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.16 per cent this season, compared to 0.17 per cent last season.

Any breath sample over 0.05 per cent will trigger an offence in Manitoba, while anything over 0.08 per cent warrants a criminal charge for impaired driving.

The most impaired driver this year had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.3 per cent, which is six times the provincial limit and almost four times the national legal limit. That level of intoxication usually results in unconsciousness and can result in death.

That said, in 2010 police outside the South African city of Queenstown arrested a driver with a blood-alcohol concentration of 1.6 per cent, according to the Sowetan newspaper.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 4, 2013 B2

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