Changes to Impaired Driving Legislation
On December 18, 2018, part two of federal legislation Bill-C46 comes into effect, which introduces substantial changes to criminal code driving laws. The goal of the new legislation is to eliminate impaired driving offences by providing police and prosecution with improved investigative powers to detect and prosecute those who choose to drive impaired.
The most impactful change with Bill-C46 is under section 320.27(2) CC, which is referred to as Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS). This section allows police who are equipped with alcohol screening devices, to conduct a roadside screening breath test for alcohol impairment with any motorist at the beginning of each traffic stop, whether they suspect the motorist has consumed alcohol or not. In relation to the check stop program, all motorists who travel through a check stop will be required to provide an immediate breath sample. The test is non-discriminatory and is very quick to complete, taking less than a minute, versus the current system that can take up to one half hour to complete. In Medicine Hat, all members of the Patrol Section and Traffic Unit are equipped with approved screening devices.
MAS is a traffic safety measure that has demonstrated significant success in reducing fatal motor vehicle collisions, by as much as 25%, in countries such as Ireland and Australia. Year to date the MHPS has laid 133 impaired driving charges and issued an additional 67 suspensions related to alcohol/drug related driving offences. In addition, the MHPS have attended to 26 motor vehicle collisions involving alcohol / drugs.
The new legislation also increase the punishments for repeat offenders or those involved in offences that are considered aggravating. Aggravating circumstances, now include cases where, at the time of the offence, the offender;
- caused death or bodily harm,
- was involved in a street race,
- had a passenger who is 16 years old or younger,
- was employed as a driver (taxi, semi, bus drivers, etc.),
- was operating a large vehicle,
- was a suspended driver,
- or, had a blood alcohol concentration of 120mg% or higher.
For more information on the changes to Alberta’s alcohol and
drug-impaired driving offences click here
Insp Joe West
Operational Services Division
Medicine Hat Police Service