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.

3 Responses 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.

  2. Brian Neufeld says:

    Paul Doroshenko has made some serious claims regarding the amendments to Canadian impaired driving laws but he hasn’t stated where the authority to enter a citizens home and demand a breath test is stipulated. Unless there has been some amendments to police officers authority under the new legislation, the police can only enter your under special circumstance or with a Feeney warrant. Is it possible for Mr. Doroshenko to assist the public and point out if in fact the police have new authority for purposes of arrest and the breath demand.

  3. Sarah. Wilcox says:

    Canadians drink too much but this law affects all foreign visitors as well. CBSA have been using US FBI database since 2014 and use this database to preclude any foreiger from any country at any Canadian port to enter Canada as a tourist visitor if that person has ever been arrested for DWI in their own country not Canada…whether convicted or not…even if dismissed by court of law. Csnada Tourism Board lobbied against this law as denying tourists who spend money will drastically hurt Csnadian economy. Canada Bar Association lobbied against this aspect of law. Even 50 year old DWI will preclude a hunter from entering Canada as a tourist. Message …Canada is not a welcoming country ..not a rule of law country with CBSA with NO Independent Oversight…CBSA harasses visiters daily. Stay away from Canada..your safety depends on it.

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