New impaired driving rules will no longer require 'reasonable suspicion' for breathalyzer
The rules will broaden what circumstances police officers are allowed to administer a breathalyzer
New federal rules for impaired driving are expected to be rolling out over the next few weeks across Canada, which will broaden what circumstances police officers are allowed to administer a breathalyzer test.
As of now, police must have "reasonable suspicion" that the driver has consumed alcohol to demand a test, said RCMP Staff-Sgt. Kevin Baillie.
"That's usually done through an admission that the person has consumed alcohol or on occasion the officer can detect an alcoholic beverage from the person," Baillie said.
Impaired driving is an all too common occurrence.— Staff-Sgt. Kevin Baillie
That will change, allowing officers to demand drivers take a breathalyzer without needing reasonable suspicion that they have consumed alcohol.
Being able to determine if a person's impaired driving is due to alcohol specifically is difficult to do, Baillie said.
Baillie said the new rules will come in handy if an officer, "feels that there's something not right with the driver, but can't form a reasonable suspicion that the person has consumed alcohol."
The new rules will also help to curb the amount of cases where drivers use reasonable cause as a defence in court, he said.
"Often it's argued in court that maybe the person had spilled the alcoholic beverage upon themselves," Baillie said. "Or it had been spilled in the motor vehicle and that in fact it wasn't coming from the person's breath."
This means drivers can make the argument in court that the officer did not have the proper grounds to demand a breathalyzer.
Impaired driving is one concern that has been difficult to tackle, said Baillie.
"Right across Canada, certainly here in Prince Edward Island, impaired driving is an all too common occurrence and the carnage that's caused by impaired drivers — in property damage, injuries and death — is something that we really are having trouble getting a handle on," Baillie said.
So far, the new rules will be limited to impaired driving from alcohol, not drug impaired driving. "As of right now, we're anticipating getting at least two drug screening devices, but we haven't received them yet," he said.
Baillie believes the new rules will mean more impaired drivers will be caught.
He said although police believe the new, broader rules will help to monitor and curb impaired driving from alcohol Baillie said the new powers need to be properly used.
"It's important that officers use it wisely."
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With files from Compass