Bill C-46 has been given royal assent and will soon change the way police can deal with suspected impaired drivers.
"There have been some changes," shared Police Chief Paul Ladouceur, "obviously it's in the early stages and we as a police service will review it and adapt accordingly as we move forward."
"Bill C-46 essentially is an overhaul to the existing impaired driving laws and I think it goes hand in hand with the legalization of cannabis."
"I think one of the biggest changes is the random roadside breath testing which means that police would be able to conduct a roadside screening test at random for people operating motor vehicles."
"Right now when police stop a vehicle, they require what is known as reasonable suspicion before they can administer a roadside screening test. Essentially the officer would stop a vehicle and if they detected the odour of alcohol or some signs of impairment which raised their suspicion that the driver may have consumed alcohol or drug, then they could move forward with those types of tests."
"What this law changes is that an officer can do a random test on a driver. It goes back to the old adage that driving is a privilege, not a right."
He also equated the random checks with some occupations where there is random drug testing.
He also explained that many drivers are well versed in how to hide the signs of impairment.
"People can mask the odour of alcohol by using breath mints or gun or something of that nature and if it's a seasoned drinker sometimes those signs may not be as obvious to get to that next phase of testing. If officers were conducting roadside check-stops for example, they would be able to do some random testing of the odd driver here and there."
"The reality is, for the most part, I don't think you'll see a huge change to the way our officers will conduct those tests. Generally, our officers would still look for some signs of impairment or alcohol or drug use before administering those tests. I don't foresee a drastic change in this community on how we're doing business and how we're dealing with those things."
"Officers don't realistically have the time to just stop and start testing every driver."
He did provide an example of a call coming in from the public stating that they saw a potentially impaired driver and when the officer finds the vehicle if there is not quite enough evidence to suggest that they might be impaired, but based on the call, they can still test that driver. It is a criminal offence to refuse a breath test.
"Driving is a privilege not a right and there are certain things that go along with having that privilege."
"There is a lot of controversy around the issue of whether constitutionally, it would hold up at the Supreme Court level or not so we'll have to see how it plays out when and if it's challenged."
"Locally, I don't see a huge change in the way we do business."
Bill C-46 is expected to come into effect in December 2018.