A 'significant erosion of rights': Sask. defence lawyer on proposed impaired driving laws

A Regina lawyer says proposed impaired driving laws introduced by the federal government last week are a terrible "step backwards" for the rights of Canadians.

Bob Hrycan says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is stripping rights enshrined by his father

The proposed federal legislation would allow police to command a breathalyzer from drivers regardless of whether they suspect the person has been drinking. (CBC)

A Regina lawyer says proposed impaired driving laws introduced by the federal government last week are a terrible "step backwards" for the rights of all Canadians.

Bob Hrycan says it is not lost on him that it was the current Prime Minister's father, Pierre Trudeau, who made sure the country had a Charter of Rights.

"He implemented the Charter as a means to protect citizens from the overreach of government," Hrycan said. "What Justin Trudeau is doing is essentially advancing government overreach. I think that's unfair."

Regina lawyer Bob Hrycan says the proposed federal legislation governing impaired driving would significantly erode the rights of Canadians. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

Right now, Hrycan says drivers are protected from unfair searches — including complying with a breathalyzer — unless a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the driver has been drinking.

The new law would remove that requirement for officers.

"Not only can they pull you over for any reason, they can demand breath samples from you for no reason," Hrycan said.

"So that's a significant erosion of rights."

Saliva testing for drugs

When it comes to testing for drug use, police must still have a "reasonable suspicion" that a driver has been using drugs before requiring a saliva test.

However, Hrycan said the threshold of two nanograms of THC (the main psychoactive compound in cannabis) could be in a person's body for weeks after they were actually impaired.

"That means that if you occasionally smoke a joint you can be pulled over, detained and subject to screening within 10 days after smoking that joint," Hrycan said. "That's fundamentally unfair."

Hrycan says there is no doubt the new laws will face a constitutional challenge, but until those cases work their way to the Supreme Court he says the federal government has created more confusion about impaired driving in Canada.

"We're not going to have more certainty," Hrycan said. "We're actually going to have more uncertainty. And that's regretable."


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