Amendment of Bill C-45 Brings Mandatory Alcohol Screening

Supporters of the amendment believe it will reduce the number of impaired driving charges across Canada. Critics argue that it will put more impaired drivers in court, resulting in a greater burden on the justice system.

In May of this year, the federal government announced a forthcoming amendment to the Criminal Code for impaired driving offences, which, with the advent of 2018’s legalization of marijuana (Bill C-45). This includes a new legal limit for drug offences and mandatory drug screening. The first part of Bill C-46 adds new sections for driving under the influence of drugs. The second part evaluates the whole Criminal Code transportation regime.

“Almost exclusively, these [impaired driving] cases are prosecuted in the provincial court system. Secondly, there is already a strain on prosecutorial and police resources. And lastly, these changes will only increase the strain on all of the justice participants.” – Toronto defence lawyer, Daniel Brown

Amendment will push for New Roadside Testing

Amendment Bill C-45
Canada is preparing for an increase in cannabis testing requests after legalization.

via Lift News

As part of the new roadside testing plan for impaired drivers, the “reasonable suspicion” test will be replaced by mandatory alcohol screening. This is called “random testing,” and many are opposed to it. In contrast, Vancouver lawyer Kyla Lee fears that mandatory screening will target minorities and that there will be “over-policing in areas for people of colour.”

On the other hand, Robert Solomon, professor of law at the University of Western Ontario, is protesting. He stated that with mandatory alcohol screening, all drivers passing the checkpoint are tested. First of all, this “reduces the likelihood of subjective enforcement of the law.” International results showed a lowered rate of alcohol-related vehicle deaths after the implementation of mandatory roadside impairment testing.

A Breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

This actually may breach the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The new rules have proposed that breath sample testing eliminates the need for an expert. Alternatively, this kind of measurement will be problematic for cannabis testing. THC lasts much longer in a user’s system than alcohol and test results for habitual and casual users of marijuana may indicate the same system levels of the drug. However, there is no question as to the importance of developing an effective and precise roadside test for marijuana.

2018 Legalization of Recreational Marijuana Advances.

Amendment of Bill c-45 for road side testing

via The Real Deal

Nevertheless, provinces are beginning to create their own legislation for drug-impaired driving. In Ontario, there will be zero tolerance for any presence of the drug, just as there is for alcohol. Police will be able to use an approved oral fluid screening device. Commercial drivers will be subject to license suspension and fines if found driving under the influence of marijuana. Furthermore, all drivers will see increased monetary penalties as a result of the new legislation.

On the other hand, Saskatchewan and B.C. have introduced tougher laws. B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and the Solicitor General stated that “since the Immediate Roadside Prohibition program began in 2010, we have seen a 50-percent reduction in alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities. Also, there has also been a decrease of approximately 85 percent in impaired driving-related reports to Crown counsel since 2010.”

While in Quebec currently has no roadside testing system in place. However, an interest group MADD is encouraging the provinces to establish a nationwide testing policy to streamline the process nationally. As a result, protection for more drivers on the road. MADD has also partnered with Lift Co. to work on a retail-training for cannabis dispensaries.