Criminal defence lawyers want feds to pump the brakes on new impaired driving rules
Ottawa’s new drunk driving legislation is a “dumb law,” Saskatoon criminal defence lawyer Mark Brayford says.
The rules, effective Dec. 18, will allow police to conduct mandatory breath tests on any driver they stop without reasonable suspicion they’ve been drinking.
“We have the right under Section 8 (of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) to be free from unreasonable searches and that includes breath searches, and if the officer doesn’t even believe you have alcohol on your breath that violates Section 8,” Brayford said.
Brayford, along with Brook Johnson, an associate with McDougall Gauley, says this increase of state power sparks issues with multiple section of the Charter.
“To me, the results produced by the Drager Drug Test 5000 are not trustworthy and should not be relied upon in court to limit the liberties of Canadian citizens, such as their ability to legally operate a motor vehicle,” Johnson said.
The Drager Drug Test 5000 is slated to be the device used to take roadside saliva tests to determine marijuana impairment, but there are concerns it isn’t suited for cold weather, and has been found to give fairly large proportions of false-positive or false-negative results.
Both lawyers say it’s invasive to stop vehicles without reasonable suspicion the driver is impaired and believe the law will be struck down in court.
So what will happen to those who refuse to blow at the roadside?
“They’ll say ‘I haven’t done anything wrong, I’m not blowing.’ Unfortunately, those people are going to be charged with a serious criminal offence,” Brayford said.
He also argued this could ignite animosity between city police and the public.
Saskatoon police say they don’t plan on randomly pulling drivers over. Instead they’ll use this tool during organized check stops.
“It’s not an intrusive test. The breath test is the equivalent of breathing out of a straw and only takes 10 seconds to conduct,” Staff Sgt. Patrick Barbar told CTV News.
Barbar says the same law is working for other countries and Canada isn’t reinventing the wheel.
“There are over 30 countries in the world who have them, Australia has had them for decades,” he said.
Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has said she is confident the bill does not violate the Charter.