On December 18, 2018 dramatic changes to impaired driving laws came into force. Here are some of the more major changes:
- The legal limit will be reduced to 80 mg of alcohol/100 ml of blood or higher instead of “greater than 80 mg”. Readings which previously would result in a warning (80 mg to 89 mg) will now result in a criminal charge.
- The offence of driving over .08 currently requires proof that the person’s blood alcohol level was over the limit at the time of driving or care or control – the new law requires that you be found over the legal limit “within 2 hours of driving.”
- Police, if equipped with a roadside alcohol screening device, may demand a breath sample from any driver without suspicion of any wrong-doing.
- The defence of “bolus” drinking where a person consumes alcohol shortly before driving which puts them over the legal limit at the time of testing, BUT NOT at the time of driving, is now simply prohibited from being advanced by the defence.
- A driver’s compelled motor vehicle collision statement can now be used to provide the police with reasonable grounds to demand a breath sample.
- The minimum fine for a first offence will increase from $1,000 for readings of 80 to 100 mg to $1,500 for readings of 120 to 159 mg and $2000 for readings of 160 mg or higher.
- The police must now provide evidence of the air blank and calibration tests for the breathalyzer used on the suspect.
In addition to the above, there are other significant changes in the new law, including several relating to drug impairment. Several of the changes are both complex and highly troubling from a civil liberties perspective, and many will be challenged in our courts on the basis that they violate fundamental rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights such as protection from unreasonable search, detentions, the right to due process and the presumption of innocence. Any one under charge for a DUI/impaired offence as of December 18th or charged thereafter should consult an experienced criminal lawyer immediately to review their case in light of these new and highly controversial changes.
Kelly Dawson, Managing Partner DDSG Criminal Law