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Police launch Mandatory Alcohol Screening program in Halifax area


An initiative called the Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) program is designed to cut down on the number of drunk drivers on the road in the Halifax area.

“Unfortunately we have impaired drivers driving around right now. I got one this morning,” says Cst. Scott Aldridge of the Southeast RCMP traffic Services.

Canadian Parliament approved MAS in 2018. It allows officers to request a breath sample from drivers during a traffic stop for a motor vehicle infraction. Police are not permitted to pull someone over for the sole purpose of completing a MAS test.

“Drivers have to provide a sample of their breath to police upon demand without a suspicion. Prior to that we had a very low threshold, but we had to form the suspicion that they had beverage alcohol in their body,” Cst. Aldridge says.

The measures might not sit well with some

“The one underlying problem with this is, one could argue that it would violate the constitutional right especially in the Charter, section 8, of unreasonable search and seizure,” says Michael Boudreau, a criminology professor at St. Thomas University.

Boudreau says groups like the Canadian Civil Liberties Association will be paying close attention to how the program unfolds.

“Police obviously have the right to use their discretion, but sometimes critics have argued that that discretion has been used against or to target groups from say racialized communities,” Boudreau says. “Will this be another example of the police using their discretion to unfairly target certain groups who they think might be under the influence of alcohol?

“It will be interesting going forward to see the numbers on who is stopped. We’re going to have to keep close tabs on the numbers.”

Similar efforts are happening in Ontario and Saskatchewan

Cpl. Aldridge says refusing the breathalyzer is the same as blowing over and the driver will be arrested and charged.

The Mandatory Alcohol Screening program will run during May.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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