There are sweeping proposed changes to Canada’s driving under the influence of alcohol laws. According to an April 2017 Health Canada backgrounder, the most noted and perhaps most controversial change, if these proposed changes become law, is that police will be able to demand samples of your breath in an “approved screening device” if they lawfully stop you. No longer will they need to first require a suspicion that you have alcohol in your body. Another change that has been talked about in the media is that the blood alcohol content in your system to be considered legally under the influence could be reduced from 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood to 50 millilitres.
What Will the Penalties Be?
The proposed law would increase most mandatory fines for first-time offenders:
- If you are a first offender with a reading of 80 to 119 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, you would be fined a mandatory fine of $1,000.
- If you are a first offender with a reading of 120 to 159 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, your fine would be raised to $1,500.
- If you are a first offender with a reading of 160 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood or more, your fine would be raised to $2,000.
If you refuse to be tested and this is your first offence, you would be subject to a $2,000 mandatory minimum fine.
For repeat offenders, things get a little more complex. The mandatory prison sentences for repeat offenders would remain the same under current law: 30 days for a second offence and 120 days for any subsequent offence. The maximum penalties in cases of where there is no injuries or death would be two years less a day on summary conviction, and up to 10 years on indictment. By increasing the latter sentencing to 10 years, it would become possible to have you labeled a dangerous offender in certain circumstances, which would keep you in jail indefinitely, with no chance of parole for seven years.
For offences that cause bodily harm, these would now be hybrid offences, which would allow the Crown to decide if the case should be tried summarily where the injuries are less severe (say you gave someone a broken arm or leg). This is meant to reduce court delays because summary convictions are simpler and take less time to go through the courts.
The other major change is that dangerous driving convictions would be increased to life sentences. This is to keep the law consistent with other transportation offences that cause death.
What Are the Other Consequences of the New Law?
Under the proposed legislation, you will no longer be able to offer certain defences for drinking and driving. For instance, you won’t be able to say in court that you were under the legal limit when you started driving because the alcohol hadn’t yet been absorbed by your body. Instead of being “over 80” at the time of your testing, you will now be considered “over 80” within two hours of testing. Also, there will be limitations placed on the defence where you claim you consumed alcohol after driving, but before providing a breath sample.
If you want more information on how the proposed laws may impact you, Armoured Suits offers a complimentary 30-minute private phone consultation. Contact us by phone at 613-233-0008 or e-mail at [email protected] to book your meeting.