Parliament is considering new legislation which would radically alter impaired driving law in Canada.  Many of the provisions likely violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and threaten the right to a fair trial.

On September 29, 2016, the bill was before the Public Safety and National Security Committee. A copy of the bill can be read here.

In its current form the new law will introduce significant changes to drinking and driving laws in Canada, including:

  • New evidentiary presumptions: The bill includes complex new evidentiary presumptions. These include presumptions against the bolus drinking defence and the post-driving drinking defence.
  • Fail to stop mens rea: The bill abolishes the requirement that an accused must intend to escape civil/criminal liability to be convicted of failing to stop at an accident. Instead, the bill replaces it with a recklessness mens rea standard.
  • Mandatory minimums jail sentences, and consecutive jail sentences: The bill provides for a 120 day minimum jail sentence for impaired driving causing bodily harm on a first offence that proceeds by indictment, and 30 days if it proceeds by summary conviction. The bill also provides that some penalties must be served consecutively to other sentences imposed for the same event.
  • Random roadside breath tests: A police officer with an approved screening device may conduct random breath-tests from drivers.
  • Expert opinion evidence: “Drug recognition experts”, who are police officers with several weeks of training, can testify about whether someone is impaired by drug without having to justify their scientific expertise.
  • Compelled statements admissible: Statutorily compelled statements under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act requiring that serious accidents be reported, for example, would be admissible to support grounds for arrests.
  • Increased fines for high blood alcohol concentrations: The bill includes a $1,500 minimum fine for breath readings over 120 mg%, and $2,000 for breath readings over 160 mg%.

Ottawa Impaired Driving and DUI Lawyer

Charged with impaired driving in Ontario? Contact Ottawa criminal lawyer Brett McGarry to discuss the best defence for your case.