New Impaired Driving Breath Test Law Goes Into Effect December 18th


A new law goes into effect later in December that will give police more authority when it comes to drinking and driving, but at least one lawyer is expressing concerns.

Mandatory alcohol screening takes effect December 18th which allows police to ask for a breath test from any driver they stop, even if it doesn't look like the driver has been drinking.

Right now, the officer has to have a 'reasonable suspicion' that alcohol has been consumed to demand the test.

"Once you are pulled over, police no longer need any excuse," said criminal lawyer Edward Prutschi speaking on AM800's the Lynn Martin show. "You can look stone cold sober to them, no odour of alcohol, no slurring of speech, none of the classic conditions that you have been drinking anything. They can ask you if you have been consuming alcohol-you can say no and they can still say, well I'm going to ask you to blow into this thing anyway."

Prutschi believes some officers may take advantage of this.

"If you are concerned about police who may be playing a little fast and loose by the rules, and I certainly don't believe that most police do that, but there are some. If you are concerned about racial bias or pulling over for various unrelated lawful reasons, now there is even more authority."

There are also concerns that it could threaten civil rights.

"Is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects all of us from unreasonable search and seizure going to step in and say hey this is a violation?  The federal attorney general has said in her view it is 100%, those are her terms, 100% certain,  that it will pass charter scrutiny," says Prutschi.

He says for those who are caught impaired driving, this change will be effective, but he questions how many innocent people will be tested in the process.