Ian Marples, general counsel for Alcohol Countermeasure Systems, demonstrates how to use an ignition interlock system in Vancouver in this 2008 photo. (FILE PHOTO)
The province’s supplier for ignition interlock devices predicts it won’t have a problem meeting demand if proposed legislation is passed to make the machines mandatory for first-time impaired drivers.
An Alcohol Countermeasure Systems spokesperson said the company contracts with Speedy Glass and other businesses to install the devices.
An informal Facebook poll conducted by the Brandon Sun indicates that readers like the province's plan to make ignition interlock devices mandatory for first-time impaired drivers.In total, 18 people hit the "like" link in support of the move, and seven comments posted to the Brandon Sun Facebook page were all in support, too. The only criticism -- the proposed legislation doesn't go far enough."Every person charged with DUI should be tested before driving, not just first-time offenders," Cheryl Eve Myran wrote."It's about time Manitoba re-established their reputation as having some of the country's strictest drunk driving penalties," Chris Brandon posted."Why only first-time offenders? Anyone charged with DUI should have to do this," Pat Walker added.» Brandon Sun
Speedy will simply train more staff or ACS will recruit more installers if demand goes up.
"If demand does increase, of course we open up more stores," ACS program co-ordinator Kyla Pleinis said.
Under proposed legislation, all first-time impaired drivers will have to use an ignition interlock device once their licence suspensions end. Offenders will have to blow into the machine to start their car, and the breathalyzer-like device will prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
The ignition interlock is currently mandatory for convicted impaired drivers who are granted a conditional driver’s licence during their suspension.
Under existing law, only first-time offenders who are convicted of impaired driving causing bodily harm or death, or of impaired driving with a child as a passenger, are required to use an ignition interlock.
The devices are paid for by users and monitored by an interlock service company. The costs include a $50 application fee, a monthly monitoring fee of $105 and a $50 de-installation fee.
The new legislation would also bring tougher penalties for drivers who are required to use an ignition interlock but get caught driving without one.
Last year, 1,800 people were convicted of impaired driving and Manitoba Public Insurance reports that, currently, 208 of the devices are in use. There were 130 drivers who entered the ignition interlock program in 2011, 124 in 2010, and 127 in 2009.
Westman’s ignition interlock systems are installed in Brandon at Speedy Glass on First Street as the next nearest installer is in Winnipeg.
MPI spokesman Brian Smiley said the number of installers will be reviewed if the new legislation is put in place, but at this point there are no plans to expand the number of outlets.
"That would be dependent on the number of convictions that take place," said Smiley, who pointed out that the legislation was only introduced on Monday and isn’t yet law.
Speedy Glass is contracted to install the devices on behalf of ACS. No figures were disclosed for the number of ignition interlocks that the Brandon outlet installs in a month, but Smiley said he’s not aware of any problems or backlog.
Pleinis said Speedy Glass can train staff in installation if there’s an increase in demand and Pleinis can contract with other automotive businesses. Fountain Tire, for example, performs the service in Alberta.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 12, 2012