Over the last several weeks, major changes have been made to provincial and federal laws surrounding impaired and distracted driving. It all started as a result of upgrades to federal legislation in the wake of the legalization of cannabis. Ontario's new distracted driving laws were finally put into motion on the 1st of January and are considered to be the harshest in Canada. Ontarians welcomed them with open arms, believing it will help keep the roads safe. As for Canada's new impaired driving laws, one of the major changes includes a nationwide policy about breathalyzers. Canadians can no longer refuse a breath test if they are suspected of impaired driving.
Unfortunately, one case, in particular, has Ontarians concerned with how quickly police are demanding breath tests, and if their hastiness could fall under profiling.
It all started when a man from Mississauga was returning empties to his local Beer Store after the holiday season. After dropping off the empty bottles, he got back in his car and headed home, but was stopped by police shortly after exiting the store. The officer who pulled him over asked if he had been drinking and then demanded a breath test. It turns out that the policeman had watched the man return the bottles to the store and decided this was reason enough to pull him over and demand a test.
The instance sparked a debate on profiling but upon taking a more detailed look into the law, many realized there were some alarming details. What especially troubled Ontarians is a part in the new legislation that allows police to issue a test to any driver "within two hours after ceasing to operate a motor vehicle." Meaning that police reserve the right to ask for a breath test from you in a bar or even your own home.
If you aren't concerned yet, consider this kind of situation: You have a drink at a bar and are under the legal limit so you drive yourself home, though someone in the bar presumes if you were drinking that you can't drive and tips off the police. If you were to head home and drink above the legal limit before the police arrived at your home to test you, you could find yourself with an impaired driving charge even though while you were in the vehicle, you were under the legal limit.
The same situation could apply if you were dead sober but made a mistake on the road that resulted in someone calling the police. If you ended up drinking in your home or at a bar two hours after operating your vehicle and the police arrived and you blew over, you could find yourself falsely convicted of impaired driving.
Ontarians were astonished by the news and quickly took to social media to air out their frustrations on the results of the new laws:
buried here : if you want to intimidate / harass someone, it is now possible to get the police to go to their home and breath test them by claiming you saw them driving oddly https://t.co/ZmZtu3aGj1 #cdnpoli #cannabis #C46— Infosec Dan Fielding ♦️ (@JungleStrikeGuy) January 9, 2019
IMHO, these new rules go way too far & will be abused by some police & erode our civil liberties: Returning bottles to the Beer Store? Beware of possible breath test by police https://t.co/MfP0yUnfcS— Geoffrey P. Johnston😎 (@GeoffyPJohnston) January 9, 2019
Another law to turn law-biding people into unwitting criminals while robbing them of more rights & freedoms.. now it looks like you can't drink two hours before or after driving a vehicle.... They can come into a bar or your house to give you a... https://t.co/9YGlHDmkU7— J D Redneck (@JackDRedneck) January 9, 2019
The police are supposed to have a legal reason for the traffic stop before being able to demand the breath sample. They can't simply pull over any vehicle they choose without justification then demand a breath sample.— Down With The King (@Down_With_ElRey) January 6, 2019
It's clear that several Ontarians are concerned that the new legislation can quickly become a privacy issue. While the law has good intentions, how far should police be able to invade the privacy of people, that could result in a false conviction, to keep impaired drivers off the road?
To brush up on your knowledge when it comes to distracted and impaired driving laws, you can view the updated versions by clicking here.
Source: Global News