Thursday , January 28 2021

The new drunk driving test allows the police to bring a breathing apparatus without reasonable suspicion

RCMP K-Division Disrupted Driver Specialist Sgt. Brent Robinson with an approved screening device used to test drivers for alcohol abuse on Monday, December 10, 2018 in Edmonton. Effective December 18, 2018, the police will be able to test a driver for alcohol and drugs without probable cause.

Larry Wong / Postmedia

Alberta RCMP hopes that new rules that allow them to require a sample from every driver that pulls you will prevent drunk drivers from getting on the road.

Mandatory alcohol screening, which comes into force on December 18th, means officers can get close to any car wearing a portable Breathalyzer for screening.

Traffic Services RCMP Supt. Gary Graham and Sgt. Brent Robinson, a qualified traffic management specialist with RCMP, demonstrated the test on Monday at the headquarters of the K department.

Graham said that on December 1, RCMP officers participated in the Day of Unbalanced Workload at National Level. Of 11 895 vehicles checked by Alberta RCMP on that day, 23 alcohol-related harm charges were levied and two were charged for drug-related offenses.

"Strong driving remains one of the leading criminal causes of death and injury in Canada," Graham said. "Compulsory alcohol screening is considered to be one of the most important public safety tools available to the police."

He said the test was used in several countries, such as Australia and Ireland, and the results were good. Ireland, for example, has shown a 40% reduction in driving alcohol toll over the past three years, something that it attributes to the program.

However, while the police support the program, others have some questions.

Killa Lee, a criminal attorney with Akquen Law in Vancouver, said he believed the test was unconstitutional because it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects Canadians from unreasonable search and seizure.

"If the police write off other reasons for poor driving and focus only on alcohol damage, it leads to people being imprisoned and arrested," Lee said in a telephone interview Monday.

According to the law, the test results may allow the police to request a second, more complex test with an approved screening device, which may include obtaining a sample of body fluid for additional alcohol testing as well as drugs in the driver's system,

The secondary test, which came into force with Part One of Bill C-46, which makes changes to drug and alcohol punishment in the Penal Code and other acts in June, is the oral fluid screening tool that can be used to patch saliva of drivers and analyze for drugs.

Lee said he thought there was no point in police being able to test accidentally alcohol and not drugs, as it is often easier to tell if someone is drunk than high.

"We do not even know what reasonable suspicions it looks like (to drive with drugs), and it does not make sense to keep the standard in place for something that is more difficult to identify."

So far, as the test can only detect alcohol in humans, it depends on the police if they think the driver may be a drug.

Graham said everyone should play a role in helping drivers to drink drugs out.

"We all have to work together so everyone can go home."

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