More changes are coming to Canada’s impaired driving laws this month that aim to better deter and detect drug and alcohol-impaired driving.

On December 18, Part 2 of Canada’s new impaired driving legislation will come into force, significantly reforming the entire Criminal Code regime dealing with transportation offences, including alcohol-impaired driving.

Combined with the new drug-impaired driving offences in Part 1 of the legislation which came into effect on June 21 of this year, Part 2 is described by government officials as creating a modernized, simplified and coherent legislative framework.

Key elements include authorizing mandatory alcohol screening to make it easier to detect whether a driver is impaired, eliminating some defences that encourage risk-taking behavior, making it easier to prove blood alcohol concentration for some impaired driving offences and clarifying what information the Crown is required to disclose to prove blood alcohol concentration.

Under the current law, police officers must have reasonable suspicion that a driver has alcohol in their body before doing any roadside testing.

When Part 2 of Bill C-46 comes into force, police officers who have an approved screening device on hand will be able to test a breath sample of any driver they lawfully stop, even without reasonable suspicion the driver has alcohol in their body. Drivers who refuse to provide a breath sample could be subject to a criminal offence.

Red Deer RCMP Cpl. Michael Zufferli says impaired driving whether by drugs or alcohol is a completely avoidable crime.

“I think most officers here are seeing this as a very positive change,” states Zufferli. “Myself and almost every officer I think I’ve worked with, we’ve all been to collisions that are alcohol related where either someone has been seriously injured or has died as a result of it. People need to make the right decision and when people don’t make the right decision, we need to be able to correct that decision making and ensure the safety of the people on the roadway."

New mandatory minimum penalties starting December 18 include fines ranging from $1,000 - $2,000 for a first offence for alcohol-impaired driving that does not cause bodily harm or death, a mandatory minimum of 30 days imprisonment for a second offence and mandatory minimum 120 days imprisonment for a third and subsequent offences.

Drug-impaired driving penalties include a $1,000 fine for a summary conviction offence, while hybrid offences contain mandatory minimum penalties starting with a $1,000 fine for a first offence, 30 days imprisonment for a second offence and 120 days imprisonment for a third and subsequent offences.

Cpl. Zufferli anticipates these upcoming changes to have a significant impact on community safety.

“There’s the potential to cut impaired fatalities and collisions in half,” adds Zufferli. “These are criminal deaths that are being caused and it’s something that needs to be stopped. It was never worth the risks and now your chances of being caught are increasingly higher.”

Maximum penalties for impaired driving without bodily harm or death include 2 years less a day imprisonment for a summary conviction and 10 years in jail for indictment.

Maximum penalties for impaired driving causing bodily harm comes with 2 years less a day imprisonment for a summary conviction with less severe injuries and 14 years behind bars for an indictment.

The maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death is life imprisonment.

Wait times for the provincial interlock program under Bill C-46 are no wait for a first offence, three months for a second offence and six months for a third and subsequent offences.

Government officials say Bill C-46 also creates three new offences for having a prohibited concentration of drugs in the blood within two hours of driving.

The regulations setting the prohibited levels of drugs came into force on June 26 of this year.

Along with THC, these offences apply for any detectable levels of other impairing drugs including cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, 6-MAM (a metabolite of heroin), Ketamine, Phencyclidine, and Psilocybin and Psilocin (magic mushrooms).

Officials say research suggests up to 50 per cent of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit are not detected at roadside check stops, adding mandatory alcohol screening will assist in deterring individuals impaired by alcohol from driving, as well as better detect those who do.

It is currently authorized in over 40 countries worldwide, including Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands and Sweden.

Officials say authorities in Ireland credit mandatory screening reducing the number of deaths on Irish roads by approximately 40 per cent in the first four years after it was enacted.

Bill C-46, introduced by the Government of Canada on April 13, 2017, is described as the most comprehensive reform to the Criminal Code transportation regime in more than 40 years.

Officials point-out however that each province and territory has additional laws or regulations that may apply, including Bill 29 in Alberta.

Impaired driving is said to be the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada.

In 2016, more than 70,000 impaired driving incidents were reported by police, including almost 3,000 drug-impaired driving incidents.

Source: Red Deer News Now


Last updated on: 2019-03-24 | Link to this post