New drink driving laws give Canadian police far-reaching powers

Canadian police will now be able to breathalyse people in bars and even in their own homes under new laws, with those who refuse liable to arrest and fines.

The new impaired driving laws give the police increased powers to demand tests to determine sobriety and detain individuals suspected of driving over the limit.

The changes to Section 253 of the Criminal Code came into effect in December last year but certain aspects of the law change are only just being fully understood.

Police officers no longer have to have “reasonable suspicion” to detain a suspected drink driver but can demand tests at any time.

This includes testing people in their own homes as much as two hours after they were on the road. Furthermore, it is now on the driver to prove that they were within legal limits when they were driving.

Paul Doroshenko, a criminal defence lawyer told Global News: “If you start to drink after you get home, the police show up at your door, they can arrest you, detain you, take you back to the (police station) and you can be convicted because your blood alcohol concentration was over 80 milligrams (per 100 millilitres of blood) in the two hours after you drove.”

Anyone who refuses a breathalyser test when asked for one can be arrested, face a criminal record, pay a fine and have their driving licence suspended.

Numerous lawyers across the country have criticised the amendment, some even calling it a “dangerous erosion of civil liberties”, noting it was ripe for abuse with a disgruntled spouse or neighbour now able to call the police on someone and make a claim of suspicious driving against them, knowing they will be arrested if they refuse or will potentially be arrested if they test positive even if they have been drinking at home and not driven at all.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould said last month: “Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada.

“I believe these reforms will result in fewer road deaths and fewer Canadian families devastated by the effects of an impaired driver. This is one of the most significant changes to the laws related to impaired driving in more than 40 years and is another way that we are modernising the criminal justice system.”

The law is expected to be challenged in federal court but it will likely take years for it to be amended if at all.

One Response to “New drink driving laws give Canadian police far-reaching powers”

  1. Stepan says:

    Welcome to Canada. What people make this law. Crazy. Not support at all.

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