Tuesday the 18th of December 2018 Canadian police across all states receive expanded powers in their fight to curb drug-impaired driving. The new laws increase penalties against offences involving drivers caught driving under the influence of alcohol, it also includes regulatory changes governing the laws against the use of drugs that may similarly impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
The newly granted police powers allow officers to demand breath samples, which subsequently raised concerns speculating that these newly enacted laws will undoubtedly face a series of initial challenges. The newly enacted legislation passed approval related deaths and injuries. The regulatory reforms hope to assist law enforcement officers in carrying out their duties by making it easier to stop and arrest drivers with blood-alcohol levels over the legally allowed limit.
Police officers now have the right to request a breathalyser sample from any driver they lawfully stop, whereas previously the law required officers to have reasonable suspicion that the driver they stopped may have consumed alcohol before they were allowed to test for any possible DUI transgressions. Canadian law has till now been fairly lenient on the point at which officers could start making lawful demands from potential transgressors since over 40 countries currently have similar laws in place.
According to Michael Engel, a lawyer from Toronto who regularly appears in defence of persons charged with driving while impaired, in his comments on these latest changes said the new rules represent a significant change which raises a concern regarding baseless searches. He went on saying it made for a radical departure from previous laws, that insulated people from warrantless searches without due cause. He also stated that the current rules could possibly lead to backlogs in Canada’s legal system as the lower courts await a decision from the higher court regarding probable challenges to the constitutionality of the new law. He went on saying it was a brave new world and represented a comprehensive change to the country’s criminal code.
Concerned civil rights organisations raised their voice in criticism against the latest changes to the rules, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association conveyed their apprehension about the mandatory screening for alcohol that could affect racial minorities with officers who single a disproportionate number of them out for traffic stops.
The Canadian Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould stated that she expects the new laws to withstand any future court challenges and that it met all aspect of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Sergeant Brett Moore, a Toronto Police spokesperson, stated the lowered standard to administer breathalyser testing provides officers with another means to prevent drunk drivers from taking to the road while under the influence. Also saying the previous system caused police to regularly miss impaired drivers. Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Canada welcomes the new amendments to the law, saying mandatory screening for alcohol shows a proven record for making the roads a safer place.