Let the invasion of our civil liberties begin. It is now possible for the police to demand a breath test in the comforts of your own home.
Due to the recent changes to section 253 of the criminal code, police officers don’t need to have reasonable suspicion that a person is driving impaired. Police can now conduct random mandatory breath tests, whether on the road or off.
Drivers who are stopped for any lawful reason, such as a traffic violation, may now be required to provide a breath test. If a driver declines, the police have the right to arrest and charge them with a criminal offence, have their licence suspended and pay a $2,000 fine. This is essentially a form of carding. When considering vulnerable neighbourhoods and minorities, this new process is open to many flaws.
The changes have received further negative feedback from the public because the new laws make it possible for officers to demand a breath test up-to two hours after a person has been suspected of impaired driving.
This too is problematic.
If someone was to hypothetically drive home, open a bottle of wine and have a few glasses; blowing over the legal limit up-to two hours of being in a car means they could theoretically get arrested for impaired driving.
Similar to innocent until proven guilty, the onus should not be on the driver to prove they weren’t over the limit when they drove themselves to their destination. Rather, the police should be required to prove the person was impaired, while driving.
It is unethical to give police officers the right to test people for alcohol in bars, restaurants, stores, and in their own home. Police should not be allowed to demand a breath test in these places without any evidence to suggest they were driving impaired.
By getting behind a wheel you are taking responsibility not only for your life but of those around you. No one should be on the roads impaired. Drunk driving is selfish and ruins lives. This, we can agree on.
Every day in Canada, on average, up to four Canadians are killed in alcohol/or drug related car crashes, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
However, the federal government has taken it too far and is now in deep waters with human rights activists.
“These new regulations are an egregious abuse of power and infringe upon our rights and freedoms,” wrote Toronto activist Sarah Beech.
While trying to improve road safety is positive, there should be a way to do so without infringing on human rights.
For non-Canadians who live in Canada or minority groups, these new laws may have significant consequences.
The maximum penalty for impaired driving was increased to 10 years in prison which means impaired driving is now classified as a serious criminal offence under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
In simple terms that means that anyone who is working through the citizenship process and is convicted of impaired driving will be removed from Canada.
Toronto-based lawyer Michael Engel said in an interview with Global News that the new police powers “represent a serious erosion of civil liberties.”
While some public feedback has been negative, not everyone disagrees. Some people view these new laws as a step in the right direction. Either way, this will not be the last time the debate of human rights get called into question when considering these new laws.