Legal Guide

What changes to the impaired driving laws mean to Canadians

The federal government has been looking to tighten up its impaired driving laws as it prepares to make marijuana legal.

Many of the changes give police more power over alleged impaired motorists and also shift the burden of proof more onto the accused.

Some of the changes will tackle reforming parts of the Criminal Code that deal with impaired driving. These changes would include a mandatory alcohol screening at a roadside stop, and an increase to fines and jail time.

Currently, police are only permitted to conduct breath or salvia tests during a stop if they reasonably suspect the person is drunk. However, the changes would allow them to test anyone regardless of suspicion.

In addition, the changes would also do away with an important defence for those accused of impaired driving. Called the bolus drinking claim, this defence states that the driver was not drunk at the time they were on the road but rather their blood alcohol level rose to over the legal limit after they stopped driving.

If the government’s changes pass, anyone who is found with a BAC over 80 mg within two hours of driving could be charged.

This leaves it open for police to approach drivers at their homes – after they have stopped driving – and demand a breath sample. The alleged suspect would then have to prove any alcohol or drugs detected in their system were consumed at home and not while they were driving.

The current minimum penalty for first time offenders convicted of drunk driving is a fine of $1,000. The changes would increase that find for those who have over 120 mg in their blood. These can be up to $2,000 for those that have over 160 mg.

As well, if a first time offender refuses a breathalyzer, they would incur a fine upwards of $2,000.

Finally, the government is also looking to introduce three new offences that refer specifically to drug-related driving charges.

With all these changes set to take place over the next few months, defending yourself against a DUI has never been more complex. That is why it is crucial to have an attorney who has the expertise and understanding to successfully represent you.

If you or someone you know is facing an impaired driving charge, contact Donich Law Firm.

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