December 5, 2018 6:59 am
Updated: December 5, 2018 7:42 am

Civil rights advocates question Canada’s new impaired driving law — but feds say don’t worry

ABOVE: Feds say new drunk driving laws come into effect on Dec. 18.

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Federal ministers are sidestepping any worries that a strict new law intended to curb drunk driving could threaten civil rights.

The mandatory alcohol screening that takes effect Dec. 18 allows police to demand a breath sample from any driver they lawfully stop — not just if they suspect a driver has been drinking.

READ MORE: Here’s how new police powers could change when you get a roadside breathalyzer test


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The roadside test could justify further investigation, including more elaborate testing at a police station.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says she has “every expectation” the new law will be challenged in the courts, but added she is confident it is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

She says the intent is to save lives is an “incredibly justifiable purpose.”

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has expressed concern that mandatory alcohol screening will unfairly affect racial minorities who are disproportionately singled out by police for traffic stops.

WATCH: Bill C-46 helps gives Canada a strong regime against impaired driving.

Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair said if a police stop were motivated by bias, it would be unlawful and contrary to the charter, and therefore a breath test would be inadmissible in court.

Research suggests that up to half of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit are not detected at roadside check stops.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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