This is what you need to know about Canada's new drunk driving laws
Published Tuesday, December 18, 2018 8:57AM EST
Convicted impaired drivers now face stricter penalties, and police officers now have enhanced powers to determine whether drivers are impaired by alcohol or other drugs.
Those changes are the result of Bill C-46, which was passed in June and came into effect Tuesday.
Among other changes, the bill spells out that police officers are able to demand a breath sample from any driver they stop. Previously, police needed to have a reasonable suspicion of impaired driving before they could conduct a test.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has welcomed the change, saying similar rules in other countries have improved road safety, while the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has expressed concern that racial minorities will be disproportionately affected.
Police officers are also now able to test drivers for impairment by using any device approved by the attorney general.
The bill also increases maximum prison terms for many impaired driving offences from five years to 10, and gives the Crown the ability to seek dangerous offender designations for dangerous drivers, impaired drivers, hit-and-run drivers and people convicted of fleeing from police.
Other notable changes that took effect Tuesday include the creation of a less severe drug-impaired driving offence, which carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and a discretionary driver’s licence suspension of up to one year, and the elimination of street racing as a separate criminal offence. Street racing is instead folded into slightly reworked dangerous driving laws, which now apply equally to people operating cars, boats, aircraft and trains.