Oakville/Ontario – The mandatory screening provision in Bill C-46, the Government of Canada’s recently proposed legislation to reform impaired driving laws, will significantly reduce impaired driving in Canada, saving hundreds of lives and preventing thousands of injuries each year, says MADD Canada.
“Simply put, mandatory screening is one of the single most effective ways Canada can reduce impaired driving,” said Andrew Murie, MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer. “It has been in place in many other countries for years and has helped them to reduce overall road crashes and fatalities.”
The provision, which is part of an impaired driving legislative bill introduced in Parliament in April, would give police the authority to demand a breath test from any driver they lawfully stop. Drivers remain in their cars, and the process is routine and quick for sober drivers. The results from the test are not used in court, but rather give police grounds to demand a second test – the results of which can be used for evidentiary purposes in court – on an approved screening device.
“To be clear, this doesn’t give police new powers to stop drivers; police already have the power to pull drivers over,” Mr. Murie said. “It gives police the ability to demand a breath sample from any driver they have lawfully stopped.”
As the law stands now, police can only demand a roadside breath sample from a driver they have lawfully stopped if they have reasonable grounds to suspect the driver has been drinking. They must rely on behavioural clues and observations. But people do not always exhibit obvious signs of intoxication, particularly those who routinely drink and drive. As a result, many drinking drivers go undetected at sobriety checkpoints.
Mandatory screening greatly increases the number of drivers screened. Equally important, it greatly increases the perception that if you drive impaired, the chance of getting caught is high.
While critics have charged that mandatory screening violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is MADD Canada’s opinion, supported by legal and constitutional experts, that the measure will withstand challenge.
“The screening procedures at airports, borders and courts can be considerably more invasive and time-consuming than mandatory alcohol screening, and those have been upheld in the courts,” Mr. Murie said.
For more on the constitutionality of mandatory screening and its effectiveness in reducing impaired driving, please see “Why Mandatory Screening”, an article authored by three leading academic researchers with expertise and experience in the field of traffic safety.
Impaired driving claims nearly twice as many lives each year in Canada as all types of homicide combined, and it is entirely preventable.
“MADD Canada supports mandatory screening as a major step forward in the fight to stop impaired driving,” Mr. Murie said. “We estimate it will reduce impairment-related crash deaths and injuries by 20% in Canada. That’s approximately 200 lives saved and more than 12,000 injuries prevented each year.”
About MADD Canada
MADD Canada (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) is a national, charitable organization that is committed to stopping impaired driving and supporting the victims of this violent crime. With volunteer-driven groups in more than 100 communities across Canada, MADD Canada aims to offer support services to victims, heighten awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and save lives and prevent injuries on our roads. For more information, visit www.madd.ca.
For more information:
Andrew Murie, MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer at 416-720-7642 or firstname.lastname@example.org