The Criminal Code of Canada sets out the federal impaired driving offences and penalties, as well as enforcement authority and procedures. As such, any proposed amendments or changes to the screening measures and BAC testing police conduct, the grounds on which they stop suspected impaired drivers or the minimum or mandatory sentencing of convicted impaired drivers is federally mandated.
Please see below for key impaired driving countermeasures which MADD Canada believes should be a priority for new federal legislation. Additional information on these and other federal policy recommendations from MADD Canada are also provided in our 2012 Federal Legislative Review (PDF).
Mandatory Alcohol Screening
A large number of impaired drivers go undetected at sobriety checkpoints because they do not display obvious signs of impairment and therefore police do not have grounds to demand a breath test. Mandatory screening is a proven effective screening measure which has achieved sustained reductions in impaired driving crashes, deaths and injuries in other countries. It can do the same in Canada.
Drug-Impaired Driving Countermeasures
Canada’s current system of identifying, investigating and prosecuting drug-impaired drivers is not working. Just 2.6% of all the impaired driving charges laid in 2014 were drug-related. (That’s 1,355 charges out of 51,637). Further, the results are not always accepted in court as proof of driver impairment.
The enforcement process would be more accurate and efficient if drivers could be physically tested for drugs the same way they can be tested for alcohol. The technology to test a driver’s drug level using a simple road side saliva test, much like the breathalyzer device for alcohol, is available and is currently being used in other countries.
Collection of BAC Evidence in Hospitals
Hospitalized impaired driving suspects are seldomly charged or convicted for impaired driving because the law makes it so difficult for police and medical personnel to collect admissible BAC evidence.
MADD Canada has called on the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to make it easier for police to demand blood samples, rather than breath tests, in hospital settings, and to clarify privacy and confidentiality issues so that medical staff know what patient information they can legally provide to police during the course of an investigation.