2018 might still seem far away, but with the legalization of marijuana looming and the prospect of more impaired drivers hitting the roads next year, impaired driving laws in Canada have become the focus of intense debate.
At the center of the debate is Bill C-46, a proposed piece of legislation that would give police the authority to require anyone, even someone they don’t suspect of drunk driving, to submit to a breathalyzer test if they are asked to. Right now if a police officer pulls you over they can only ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test if they suspect you of impaired driving.
At the center of the debate is the question over whether these types of tests are considered random testing. If they are just random, without the need for reasonable suspicion of drunk driving, do the tests violate the Canadian Charter of Rights? The House of Commons is also considering the reliability of breathalyzer tests.
While the debate will continue and people will come out for and against Bill C-46, the reasons behind the proposed amendments to impaired driving laws in Canada are valid. Both the government and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have said that drunk drivers slipping through impaired driving checkpoints may be one of the major reasons so many people are dying in impaired driving crashes.
According to MADD, people don’t always exhibit obvious signs of being under the influence. It can be especially hard to detect whether or not someone has been drinking if that person routinely drinks and drives. They’ve cited studies in other countries including Australia and New Zealand, all countries with mandatory screening, that have shown road deaths go down when people are required to submit to a breath test without police suspecting them of drunk driving.
It’s been a busy week in the world of impaired driving, because Bill C-46 isn’t the only topic under debate right now. The federal government is also considering lowering the legal blood alcohol limit from .08 to .05, and Ontario took steps to crack down on their impaired drivers by toughening up impaired driving laws in the province.
The bottom line: passing C-46 will save lives in Canada, and although the details still need to be ironed out, this is one bill that’s long overdue.