As of December 18, police officers with an approved screening device on hand can demand a breath sample of drivers they lawfully stop, even without reasonable suspicion that they have alcohol in their bodies.
Bill C-46 significantly reforms the Criminal Code regime dealing with transportation offences, including alcohol-impaired driving.
Sgt. Brett Moore said a Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) will be done after the person is stopped lawfully by a police officer. Refusal to submit a breath sample could lead to a criminal offence and a mandatory minimum $2,000 fine.
“Research suggests that up to 50 per cent of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit are not detected at roadside checkpoints,” said Moore. “Mandatory alcohol screening will assist in deterring individuals impaired by alcohol from driving as well as better detect those who do.”
MAS is currently authorized in more than 40 countries.
The legislation also focuses on drug-impaired driving, giving police the authority to demand either a Standardized Field Sobriety Test or the use oral fluid drug screeners. If presence of a drug is detected, young, novice and commercial drivers can be immediately suspended from driving. These drivers also have zero tolerance for alcohol.
Sgt. Moore pointed out that on one hand the legalization of cannabis has loosened some aspects of the law pertaining to possession and consumption, but to balance this out, the laws pertaining to operating any form of transportation (motor vehicle, boat, train, and airplane) while under the influence of drugs or alcohol have been strengthened.
Bill C-46 also increases the mandatory fines for first offenders with high blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) without causing bodily harm or death:
- A first offender with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 80 to 119 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood is subject to the current mandatory fine of $1,000
- The mandatory minimum fine for a first offender with a BAC of 120 to 159 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood is raised to $1,500
- The mandatory minimum fine for a first offender with a BAC of 160 mg or over of alcohol per 100 ml of blood or more is raised to $2,000
- A first offender who refuses to comply with a lawful demand is subject to a $2,000 minimum fine
- Second offence is mandatory minimum 30 days imprisonment
- Third offence is mandatory minimum 120 days imprisonment
A first offender who refuses to comply with a lawful demand is subject to a $2,000 minimum fine.
Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada.
So far this year, Toronto Police has charged over 900 people with an impaired driving offence.
“The number is intolerable,” said Moore. “We also want to remind members of our community and partners that if you suspect an impaired driver on our roads, call 9-1-1.”
Nearly 7,000 calls have been made so far this year.