Article by Brian Platt, National Post
A sweeping overhaul of Canada’s impaired driving laws was given Royal Assent on Thursday, meaning the new rules are starting to come into effect and drivers should be prepared.
Bill C-46 made reforms to both alcohol-impaired driving and drug-impaired driving, and police now have powerful new tools to detect and charge drivers. The bill also made many technical changes to help the courts deal with impaired driving cases more quickly.
There are three big — and controversial — changes Canadians will need to know about.
Random roadside breath testing
Starting in December (180 days after Royal Assent), police can require a roadside breath test for any driver. The crucial change is they will no longer need reasonable suspicion the person has been drinking. Drivers who refuse this test face a criminal charge with similar penalties to an impaired driving conviction.
This provoked heated debate during the Senate’s study of Bill C-46, as lawyers and civil liberties groups argued it violated the Charter’s protection against unreasonable searches. There is also concern it will disproportionately affect minorities due to racial profiling.
The Senate voted to remove the entire provision from the bill, but the Liberal government insisted on restoring it and eventually got its way.