A sign of the holiday season is upon us: several police forces officially launched roadside checks on Thursday night.
Police say nearly every day in the coming months, they will set up spot checks to check for impaired driving.
Thursday’s roadside stop began at 5 p.m. in the Chomedey district of Laval – though most will not be announced in advance.
Last year, police stopped about 1,000 drivers in Montreal on the first day and two people were asked to take breathalyzers. Nobody was arrested.
Jason Allard of the Sureté du Quebec said that on average, 20 people are day are arrested and charged with impaired driving.
"Any officer can stop you if you're driving under the influence of drugs and he can bring you to the station [for further testing]," said Allard.
He said that 2,800 SQ officers have been trained in how to recognize a driver who has been using drugs.
Anyone suspected of impaired driving – whether they are drunk or stoned – will have their vehicle seized for 30 days. The driver will be brought to a police station where a specially trained officer will make that determination.
"It is a criminal act. And we have to understand it's not only being stopped. Sometimes they'll be following you, seeing the way you're driving your vehicle, if you're swerving in the lane, those are all other parts of the infraction that are put together," said Allard.
The penalties for impaired driving are steep.
Upon arrest for a first offence a person's licence is suspended for 90 days, their vehicle can be impounded for 30 days, and if convicted their licence is revoked for one year.
For a third offence a person's licence is suspended for 90 days, their vehicle is impounded for 90 days, and upon conviction they're prohibited from driving for five years.