DUI Laws Changed in 2019 - you can be asked to provide a breath sample without reasonable suspicion.
The federal government continues its efforts to get impaired drivers off the roads with stronger penalties for DUI Charges coming into effect this month.
The Department of Justice website notes impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. On April 13, 2017 the government introduced tough new legislation, which passed in Parliament on June 20, 2018.
The new law, divided into two parts, brings increased fines and jail time for impaired driving offences. Part 1 of the legislation deals with drug impaired driving, and Part 2 addresses alcohol impaired driving.
Fine For Not Providing Breath Sample
Asking a driver to provide a breath sample into a roadside screening device “will not be a random thing.” police officer reports.
So what is the main change in DUI Law in 2019?
A significant change is that police officers will be able request a breath sample of any driver they lawfully stop; even without a reasonable suspicion that a driver may be impaired by alcohol. The fine for refusing to provide a breath sample will be $2,000 (upon conviction.)
Kawartha Lakes Police Sergeant Tom Hickey says the caveat to that part of the legislation is that the person must have been lawfully stopped by police, for example for Highway Traffic Act infractions. Asking a driver to provide a breath sample into a roadside screening device, he says “will not be a random thing.”
The Justice Department website states that under the current law, police officers must have reasonable suspicion that a driver has alcohol in their body before doing any roadside testing.
As of Dec. 18, police officers who have an approved screening device on hand will be able to test a breath sample of any driver they lawfully stop, even without reasonable suspicion that the driver has alcohol in their body.
Hickey noted that according to the federal government, up to 50 per cent of drivers with a blood alcohol above the legal limit are not detected; it is hoped the new legislation will assist in both deterring people from driving drunk and detecting those who do.
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As to the $2,000 mandatory fine (upon conviction) for not providing a breath sample, Hickey said large financial penalties “can always be a deterrent.”
The government maintains Part 2 of the new impaired driving legislation “significantly reforms the entire Criminal Code regime dealing with transportation offences, including alcohol-impaired driving… Combined with the new drug-impaired driving offences in Part 1 of the legislation, this will create a modernized, simplified, coherent legislative framework addressing all transportation offences including impaired driving in Canada.”
Some key elements include “simplifying and modernizing… the impaired driving provisions in the Criminal Code to create a more coherent and efficient legislative framework and authorizing mandatory alcohol screening to make it easier to detect whether a driver is impaired.”
Asked if drinking and driving continues to be a problem for Kawartha Lakes Police, Sgt Hickey said, “Although our stats would dictate that incidents of impaired driving is decreasing in our jurisdiction, we are committed to continuing to take any and all opportunities to educate the public surrounding the pitfalls of impaired driving. We will continue to run RIDE programs to enhance our enforcement initiatives in this area.”
Here are some of the penalties for impaired driving as of Dec. 18:
Alcohol-impaired driving that does not cause bodily harm or death – mandatory minimum penalties:
- First offence + blood alcohol content (BAC) of 80-119 mg: mandatory minimum $1,000 fine;
- First offence + BAC of 120-159 mg: mandatory minimum $1,500 fine;
- First offence + BAC of 160 mg or more: mandatory minimum $2,000 fine;
- First offence of refusal to be tested: mandatory minimum $2,000 fine;
- Second offence: mandatory minimum 30 days imprisonment;
- Third and subsequent offences: mandatory minimum 120 days imprisonment.
Maximum penalties for impaired driving causing no bodily harm or death are two years less a day in jail for a summary conviction and 10 years in prison for an indictment. For impaired driving causing bodily harm the penalty for a summary conviction (for less severe injuries) is two years less a day imprisonment and 14 years imprisonment on indictment.
A charge of impaired driving causing death carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Make sure to hire a DUI Lawyer to avoid this punishment.
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