With new legislation legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, the federal government has also taken the opportunity to make some fundamental changes to Canada’s impaired driving laws. The tighter laws are scheduled to go into effect across the country near the end of the year.
One of the chief changes, and one that is deeply troubling to many in the defence bar, is that the Criminal Code will no longer require police officers to have "reasonable suspicion" of alcohol consumption by a driver before demanding a breath sample. Essentially, law enforcement will be able to stop and breath-test any driver for alcohol consumption at any time. In October of last year, during debate over the new legislation, federal Justice Minster Jody Wilson-Raybould told the Commons the changes will “ensure we have the toughest impaired rules [in] the world.”
That pledge is applauded by many groups, among the most vocal of which is Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Calgary’s Wayne Kauffeldt, a regional director on the national board of MADD, welcomes the federal government’s get-tough stance. “It echoes our . . . view that improved screening will reduce impaired driving.”