If you’re driving on Edmonton’s streets, be prepared to do a breathalyzer test if police pull you over.
That’s what Sgt. Rob Davis of the Edmonton Police Service’s Impaired Driving Unit says, as new federal laws are now in effect.
The new impaired driving laws, which are part of Bill C-46, give police across Canada the authority to demand breathalyzer tests from any driver they pull over.
Previously, police needed a reasonable suspicion the driver was impaired before they could demand the test.
Davis told Global News that when a driver is pulled over, officers will likely demand that person does the test.
“I think when the lawmakers made this law that was what they were expecting to happen so when the police officer goes up to the car, it should be the first thing that they are thinking about when they are walking up to the vehicle,” Davis said.
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According to Davis, the mandatory alcohol screening demand should be one of the first statements read to a driver when the officer walks up to their window. The sergeant thinks the new law will allow for a faster check stop or traffic stop.
“The whole premise on mandatory alcohol screening is that it’s as fast as it can possibly be so it will limit the amount of time that it’s at the roadside,” he said.
Davis also notes police still need a reason to pull over a driver before they can demand a breathalyzer test.
The new law also increases the penalty for alcohol-impaired driving offences, with a minimum $1,000 fine for anyone blowing over 0.08 for the first time.
Drivers will also no longer be allowed to use the “bolus drinking defence” to argue they consumed alcohol just before driving and it was not absorbed into their bloodstream yet.
Davis feels the laws are a positive step toward keeping roads safer, but he understands people will be a bit confused when they are asked to blow into the breathalyzer even if they are sober.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the time, people are sober, and it will be a quick stop and they’ll be on their way again,” he said.