Impaired driving is the term used to describe a situation in which a driver operates a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Impaired driving is one of the leading causes of criminal death and injury in Canada. To change this, the Canadian government has implemented laws to reduce accidents involving impaired driving. However, the government may update or revise these laws over time. In 2018, the government took steps to increase protection against impaired driving. Here’s what you need to know about these changes.
Numerous regulations are in place to reduce the accidents arising from driving under the influence. Recent changes to the laws include:
Mandatory alcohol screening
Police officers can now conduct a breathalyzer test on any driver stopped legally. Before the change, officers needed reasonable suspicion to do a test – for example, the smell of alcohol on your breath. You should comply if you are stopped by an officer and asked to do a breathalyzer test. Refusing the test could result in your arrest and charge.
Drinking after driving
Another significant difference is that Canadians can now be charged with impaired driving even if they only began drinking after driving. The police can request breath samples up to two hours after your traffic stop. You can be charged if you consume alcohol within those two hours, whether at home or a restaurant, and blow over the legal alcohol limit. This change has eliminated the “bolus drinking” defence. This defence allowed drivers to claim that, while they consumed alcohol before driving, it wasn’t fully absorbed into their system until the time of the test. Without the “bolus drinking” defence, it will be harder for drivers to mount a successful argument. An impaired driving lawyer is beneficial in these situations and can assist in crafting a proper defence strategy.
The new laws also increased the penalties for impaired driving. The mandatory fine for a first offence can be up to $2000 depending on your blood alcohol level, whereas previously, the fine for a first offence was $1000. A second offence carries a minimum penalty of 30 days in prison, while a third carries a minimum of 120 days. Where impaired driving results in bodily harm, drivers face up to 14 years imprisonment. In cases resulting in death, drivers face up to life in prison.
What Hasn’t Changed?
One element that remains fast with the impaired driving laws is the prohibited blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). In Canada, the BAC for fully licensed drivers is 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. New drivers and those under 21 must have a BAC of 0mg.
In B.C., most impaired investigations still lead into the “administrating driving prohibition” regime. While not a criminal charge, administrative driving prohibitions can have a significant impact on you, and the fines and fees can add up.
How Do These New Laws Affect Your Rights?
While the government is trying to protect citizens, there are concerns that the new laws may instead infringe on their rights – for example, if a breathalyzer is demanded without reasonable cause. There is also some concern regarding wrongful convictions with the new authority granted to police officers. If you are stopped or charged under the new law, a lawyer can help ensure that your rights are protected.
Impaired driving lawyer
Impaired driving charges can lead to licence suspension, hurt job prospects, limit your ability to move freely and affect your immigration status. A permanent resident convicted of impaired driving can be removed from the country. Furthermore, if you are convicted, the information can stay on your record for up to six years.
An impaired driving case requires a capable lawyer who has knowledge and experience litigating traffic offences. If you are served a roadside prohibition, act quickly to get the matter resolved. The team at Johnson Doyle can help you mount a successful defence. Contact us at (604) 688-8338 to schedule a consultation today.