The laws of Canada are always changing and being amended – and criminal laws are no different. Legislators are always examining how to alter criminal offences and penalties. On December 18, 2018, the standing laws regarding impaired driving were repealed, and new laws took effect.
In the months since, many people have opposed the new laws, questioning whether they are unconstitutional. In any event, the laws currently stand, and everyone in Canada should be aware of the new law while it is in effect. The following is a brief overview of some changes made. If you want to discuss a specific situation, speak with Alan Pearse directly.
In the past, in order to make a breath demand, police officers had to have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person was driving with alcohol in their system. The allow officers make breath demands without this requirement. Police can seek breath samples without a reasonable suspicion, at roadside checks, or even at every traffic stop if they wish to do so. This has many people questioning whether random testing violates their Charter rights.
The prior law criminalized driving “Over 80,” which refers to the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers. The language of the law has been changed to “Driving At or Over 08” which means a BAC of 80 can now result in charges. The law also added an important new provision of “within Two Hours of Operation.”
This new two-hour window is a point of controversy because, under the law, a police officer could test your breath for two hours following the suspected drunk driving. In one case, a woman stated she had one drink and then drove to a house, where she consumed additional beers. The police showed up at the house to request a breath test because they claimed they received a report about her driving. Despite her BAC being higher after she consumed the beers – long after she stopped driving – the police arrested her for testing 80 and Over.
This is only one example of how the new law is giving police the authority to demand breath tests – even up to two hours after you stopped driving. Refusing a test can also result in serious criminal charges, so it is important to contact Alan Pearse.