“Either everyone gets it or nobody gets it,” Sgt. Ryan Howrish, with the Cold Lake RCMP Detachment, confirms that with the passing of Bill C-46 all motorists lawfully stopped will now be subjected to a breathalyzer test.
The bill, which goes into effect on December 18th, calls for mandatory alcohol screening at every traffic stop. “It’s a really big deal,” explained Sgt. Howrish. Previous to this bill, RCMP members had to have a reasonable suspicion to believe a motorist was impaired before requesting an alcohol screen. “As long as [RCMP] have any reasonable stop we can now request that you provide a sample of your breath on an alcohol screening device.”
Sgt. Howrish says he approves the new laws and believes it will overall benefit the public. “Impaired driving is completely avoidable and preventable. You always have options: stay over, designate a driver, call a cab or use a ride-sharing service. Driving impaired is never worth the risk.” Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of injury and death on Canada’s roads.
Sgt. Howrish anticipates with the implementation of mandatory alcohol screenings over time the incidents of impaired driving will be reduced. “Mandatory alcohol screening has been internationally credited to reduce the incidence of impaired driving and can be a valuable public safety tool.” It is currently authorized in over 40 countries worldwide, including Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands and Sweden.
“There will be some challenges moving forward,” Sgt. Howish suspects there will be some Charter violation cases seen before the courts as the new law is in its early stages. He also predicts that the provincial courts will see more cases.
“The overall goal is to make our roads safer and I believe strongly that this is one of the steps in the right direction,” stated Sgt. Howrish.
Bill C-46 takes effect December 18th. There is no mandatory screening for drug-impaired driving. Any roadside testing for suspected drug-impaired driving requires a police officer to have at least a reasonable suspicion that the driver has drugs in their body.
Refusal of an alcohol screening device carries the same penalty of impaired driving.