THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – It is completely unacceptable that impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada.
That’s why our government introduced the most significant changes to the criminal code in more than 40 years, making sure people are safe on our roads and highways.
With the holiday season upon us, I’d like to remind everyone that as of December 18th, stronger alcohol-impaired driving laws came into force across Canada, making our country safer and saving lives. These reforms will also lead to more efficient trials and reduce the burden on our courts while respecting our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The key changes include mandatory alcohol screening at the roadside, new and higher minimum fines, higher maximum penalties, changes to some legal defences that used to reward risky behaviour and clarifying what the Crown must disclose to the defence.
Police are now able to demand a breath sample from any driver that has been lawfully stopped without first requiring a reasonable suspicion that the person has been drinking. A lawful stop could be made because a driver ran a stop sign or a red light, for example. Mandatory alcohol screening is a proven traffic safety measure. It has been implemented in more than 40 countries and where it is has been put in place, it has saved lives. For instance, in Ireland, the introduction of mandatory alcohol screening is credited with reducing the number of people killed on their roads by 23% in the first year and 40% over the first 4 years following its enactment in 2006. This change alone will have a profound impact on the safety of our roads and the lives of Canadians.
This is in addition to the $274 million our government has committed to help frontline officers enforce cannabis regulations. Police now have more tools to catch more impaired drivers and make sure fewer people are hurt or killed in impaired driving collisions. If you are drinking or using cannabis this holiday season, make sure you have a plan to get home safely. Please don’t drive. Be safe and have fun.
Hon. Patty Hajdu
Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North