POLITICS

Manitoba says it will soon be easier to suspend dangerous drivers' licences

04/28/2015 03:21 EDT | Updated 08/02/2015 01:59 EDT
WINNIPEG - Manitoba is planning new rules to make it easier to suspend the licences of motorists charged with serious driving offences.

Justice Minister James Allum says he will introduce a bill during the spring sitting of the legislature that would alert the motor vehicle registrar as soon as a charge is laid. Currently, an alert follows a conviction, which can take months or years.

The alert triggers a review of the driver's record by Manitoba Public Insurance, which can suspend a licence or order the motorist to take a safe-driving course.

The change was triggered in part by the 2012 case of a man who crashed his SUV into a Winnipeg hair salon, killing Kendall Wiebe, who was working inside. The driver had a long history of collisions and kept his licence until he was convicted this month.

"We want to be sure that at the earliest stage possible, we can get dangerous drivers off the roads (and) protect the well-being of both pedestrians and other drivers," Allum said Tuesday.

The change would only affect people accused of the most serious driving offences, such as criminal negligence, and people would have a right to appeal, Allum added.

The proposed law would not lower the threshold for suspending drivers' licences. The man who killed Wiebe — Adebola Shoyoye — had been involved in 11 previous crashes and had several other convictions under the Highway Traffic Act.

Whenever there is an alert, the decision as to whether to suspend a licence is made on a case-by-case basis.

"What that does is trigger a review of the .... entire driving record," said Ward Keith, an acting vice-president with Manitoba Public Insurance.