This summer, Canada has taken what many Chatham personal injury lawyers feel are a two steps forward, one step back approach to impaired driving. In the same season that we have legalized marijuana use, we have also possibly taken away other civil rights in the way that officers can check for driver impairment. Let’s take a look at the new legislation.
Known as Bill C-46, these reforms have enabled police with new ways to test and charge drivers and have made changes to help the court system deal with these cases more expeditiously. That’s a good thing, right?
Random Roadside Testing
No more reasonable suspicion. Now, police don’t need to suspect someone of impaired driving to administer breathalyzer testing. That is a standard we have always held them to but as of December, police have the right to force a test regardless of suspicion. And refusal will carry harsh fines and penalties.
Roadside Saliva Tests
Now, in addition to breathalyzer tests for alcohol, police will also be able to administer saliva tests for suspected THC, cocaine, or methamphetamine impairment.
THC Blood Level Designation for Impairment
This bill calls for a threshold of maximum THC blood levels. The suggested guidelines and penalties are:
● 2 ng to 5 ng of THC per ml of blood within 2 hours of driving will result in a fine up to $1,000.
● Anything over 5 ng of THC per ml of blood within 2 hours of driving will result in a fine or criminal charge.
● A combination of THC and blood alcohol will result in a fine or imprisonment.
Under these proposals, first-time offenders will receive a fine of up to $1,000, second-time offenders will receive a minimum of 30 days in jail, and third-time offenders will receive a minimum of 120 days in jail.
What Does the Science Say?
Although the science is clear on impairment when it comes to alcohol, it is less clear on THC blood levels. Consuming even a small amount of cannabis can put someone over the first threshold immediately. And how will this affect medical marijuana users?
Could This Lead to Civil Rights Abuses?
Although tougher laws on impairment are welcome, these particular laws make some legal experts worried. The empowering of police to randomly test drivers may lead to many civil rights ambiguities and could result in minorities being targeted unfairly.
Saliva testing also is a big unknown as it has very few real-world applications in use so far. Government legislators have been quick to point to countries already using random testing such as Australia and Ireland but many critics feel the comparison is not a fair one.
Bill C-46 goes into effect in December. That is only a few short months away. It will be even more important to get the advice of a Chatham injury lawyer if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident to ensure your rights. Call the legal team at AB Personal Injury Lawyer to understand your legal rights under this new legislation.