Criminal Code & breathalyzer sampling
Recent changes to Section 253 of the Criminal Code of Canada have broadened police powers, with regard to when breathalyzer samples can be considered evidence in “proving” a motorist has been driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Police may now enter a home and charge someone based on a breathalyzer sample as apparent “proof” that a driver was impaired while driving, even up to two hours after a driver has returned home. This writer is not a lawyer; however, it appears that according to the law (https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/section-253.html), if you cannot prove you started drinking only after returning home from driving, you may be charged with impaired driving.
How does a citizen afford the kind of lawyer that could legally “prove” they didn’t begin drinking before they last operated a motor vehicle?
In this new reality, a disgruntled motorist, aware of these new police powers, could report a driver as driving erratically, resulting in police showing up at the driver’s home and charging them with impaired driving if they have had a glass or two of wine after getting home. There are situations where lawful driving has resulted in other motorists becoming disgruntled and aggressive.
There are other situations where this could allow abuse: targeting neighbours in conflict, personal issues between estranged spouses, disgruntled employees or employers, and situations where placing a phone call could lead to charges and a long and costly road through the legal system.
We are entrusting police services to apply correct judgement on the ground. Section 253 opens the possibility for unethical individual members of police to victimize those with limited resources, minorities, the poor, or new Canadians.
Laws that enforce distracted or impaired charges are obviously necessary. But these changes allow police to lay charges at their discretion.
One wonders what kind of government would support such a law. It contravenes standards that this voter believed the Liberal party held dear. Our laws represent our values. We need to let our representatives know when a law is over-reaching, unjust and creates opportunity for abuse.