Starting December 18th, if a police officer pulls you over for any reason, he or she can ask you to blow into a breathalyzer to test for alcohol consumption, regardless of whether the officer suspects drunk driving.
The federal government is giving police forces across the country increased powers to take drunk drivers off Canadian roadways.
As of December 18th, Bill C-46, announced this week authorizes police to demand a breath sample at the roadside from any driver who's been lawfully stopped. Previously officers needed reasonable suspicion of impairment, soon not any more.
Lethbridge Police Traffic Sergeant, Wade Davidson says they know they miss a significant number of impaired drivers at check stops. "Drivers do a very good job of camouflauging it. They can correct behaviour for a short period of time. Now with mandatory alcohol screening, the expectation is going to be that anyone who pulls up to a check stop is going to be screened for alcohol consumption with an approved screening device."
The major changes outlined in Bill C-46 are:
- Mandatory roadside screening for alcohol – reasonable suspicion of impairment will no longer be required
- Increased mandatory minimum penalties for impaired driving
- Removal of the “bolus drinking defence” – a reckless behaviour where a driver states that a large amount of alcohol was consumed just before driving and therefore was not fully absorbed when driving occurred, thus the driver’s blood alcohol concentration was not yet over the legal limit at the time of driving
- Limitation of the “intervening drinking defence” – a behaviour where a driver involved in an impaired driving incident would consume a large amount of alcohol immediately after driving but before police could administer a breath test
- New aggravating factors in sentencing impaired drivers
Davidson says officers can stop any vehicle they choose as long as its for a legitimate traffic safety or violation.
The federal Liberal government says this is a proven traffic safety measure that has had significant success in preventing road deaths in countries such as Australia and Ireland.
LPS Sergeant Wade Davidson: