MADD Canada’s newly-released federal policy report recommends new measures the Canadian government should adopt to further address the impaired driving problem and better support victims and survivors of this violent crime.
“Changes implemented by the federal government in 2018 were a significant step forward in the fight to stop impaired driving, particularly mandatory alcohol screening, the new drug limits for driving and the roadside drug screening provisions,” said Andrew Murie, chief executive officer of MADD Canada.
“However, impaired driving still kills and injures thousands of Canadians each year. Our new report recommends measures that will further strengthen Canada’s impaired driving laws and the rights and supports for the people so tragically impacted by this crime.”
Following are brief outlines of some of the key recommendations.
• Create a federal .05% blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) offence punishable by summary conviction. The creation of a federal .05% BAC offence would maximize deterrence, while helping to reduce the burden on law enforcement and court resources of the existing .08% BAC offence.
• Require any driver, or person suspected of being a driver, involved in a crash to take a mandatory alcohol screening test. The current mandatory alcohol screening law does not apply to drivers who abandon their vehicle, flee the scene of a crash or are taken to the hospital before the police arrive.
• Authorize police to require the taking of a blood sample from any driver, or person suspected of being a driver, who is hospitalized after a crash and who is unable to take an approved screening device test or respond to a demand for a breath or blood sample. Few impaired drivers hospitalized following crashes are ever charged due to difficulties obtaining BAC evidence. Recent changes to the Criminal Code blood-testing provisions are unlikely to significantly increase the detection, charge or conviction rates for hospitalized impaired drivers.
• Make an oral fluid drug screening test mandatory for any driver whom police have lawfully stopped, and from any driver, or any person suspected of being a driver, involved in a crash.
• Police require reasonable grounds to suspect a driver has drugs in his or her body before they can demand an oral fluid screening test. Implementing mandatory drug screening for drivers will greatly increase detection, charge and conviction rates.
• Authorize police to require the taking of a blood sample from any driver, or person suspected of being a driver, in a crash, if that individual is unable to take an oral fluid test or is unable to respond to a demand for an oral fluid test, drug recognition evaluation or blood test. Similar to the current situation with drivers suspected of being alcohol-impaired, it is very difficult for police to gather evidence of suspected drug-impairment from drivers who are hospitalized following a crash. The proposed measure would ensure police can gather the evidence needed to determine if the driver was impaired drugs.
MADD Canada has a long history of promoting public policies that will effectively address impaired driving. Since 1998, it has been conducting regular reviews of federal laws and making recommendations for legislative and policy measures to further reduce impaired driving and assist victims. When considering such measures, MADD Canada selects those that are compatible with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are likely to have wide public support, and have the greatest potential to reduce impaired driving.
“These are concrete, feasible strategies that will help reduce the devastation caused by impaired driving crashes which are entirely preventable,” Murie said of the new recommendations. “We will be pursuing these measures with federal government representatives and policy makers.”
Andrew Murie, MADD Canada at 416.720.7642 or email@example.com.