New laws related to alcohol-impaired driving allow police officers to conduct a breath test from any driver that has been lawfully stopped without requiring a suspicion that the person had been drinking. (File photo)

Stricter drunk driving laws come into effect Dec. 18 across Canada

Drivers can expect compulsory breath tests at road checks come this holiday season

New laws related to alcohol-impaired driving take effect Dec. 18, allowing police officers to collect a breath sample from any driver that has been lawfully stopped, without requiring a suspicion that the person had been drinking.

The legislation, which passed in June at the same time as new rules for drug-impaired driving, is intended to curb injuries and death by helping police catch drivers with more than the legal limit of alcohol in their bloodstreams.

“This is one of the most significant changes to the laws related to impaired driving in more than 40 years and is another way that we are modernizing the criminal justice system,” said Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

RELATED: New pot, impaired driving penalties could bar newcomers from Canada

The new rules are aimed at stopping drivers that in the past would deny having consumed alcohol potentially preventing police from forming the reasonable suspicion to require the driver to take an alcohol screening test.

Minimum fines and maximum penalties have also been increased under the new laws.

The new legal framework will increase deterrence and the detection of impaired drivers, and simplify the investigation and proof of the impaired driving offences, according to the Department of Justice Canada, resulting in shorter trials and reduced delays.

RELATED: Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

Impaired driving remains a leading cause of fatal car crashes, with an average of 68 lives lost every year in B.C.

In 2017, there were more than 69,000 impaired driving incidents reported by the police, including almost 3,500 drug-impaired driving incidents.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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– With files from the Canadian Press

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