Canadian law enforcement could be able to test any legally-stopped driver for alcohol impairment, even without prior suspicion. Such a change to the Criminal Code of Canada could be passed into law after the legislation was tabled this week. The amendment would also allow police drug recognition experts to give opinion testimony in criminal trials.
The changes would be made under Bill C-46, which will allow “police officers who have an approved screening device on hand would be able to test any driver they lawfully stop, even if the officer does not suspect the driver has alcohol in his or her body,” the federal justice department states on its website.
Tablet in the House of Commons on April 13, Bill C-46 is currently in the first reading phase and was tabled by Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould.
Bill C-46 will change the maximum sentence for impaired driving causing death to life in prison. The current maximum term is set at 14 years. The additional powers for police would allow them to use oral fluid screening to detect drugs. Unlike the drink driving amendment, law enforcement would need “reasonable suspicion” of drug impairment.
“A reasonable suspicion would be based on objectively discernible facts, such as red eyes, muscle tremors, agitation, or speech patterns,” Justice Canada says on its website.
Bill C-46 “would also clarify that certified drug recognition evaluating officers do not need to be qualified as an expert to give opinion testimony at trial,” states Justice Canada. It would also “provide a police officer the option to demand blood instead of a drug recognition evaluation where they have reasonable grounds to believe an impaired driving offence has occurred.”