Edmonton police want to reassure citizens that Canada’s new impaired driving laws do not give them the right to come to your home and demand a breath sample when you’ve done nothing wrong.
“It is not the law that police are just going to randomly come to your home,” Sgt. Robert Davis with the Edmonton Police Service Impaired Driving Unit said Thursday.
“It will be very clear and it will be very definitive why a police officer would be asking or demanding of you to provide a sample of breath and that would be because moments before or within two hours, you were involved in a criminal driving offence.”
The laws, which came into effect Dec. 18, give police new powers when it comes to interacting with drivers. The goal was to make them comparable to drug-impaired driving laws.
Before, drivers could use the so-called “bolus drinking defence,” arguing that they consumed alcohol after being stopped by police or after a collision, but that their blood-alcohol concentration was actually under the legal limit at the time of driving.
The new laws eliminate this defence, making it illegal to be at or over the limit within two hours of being behind the wheel.
WATCH BELOW: Everything you need to know about Canada’s new drunk driving laws
Concerns have been raised over the two-hour provision, with some worried it could lead to charges against those who start to drink after returning home.
Davis said he has no doubt the law will be challenged in court, but stressed that they were changed to keep Canadians safe on the roads.
The new laws also bump up the maximum penalties for many alcohol-impaired driving offences and give police the authority to demand a breathalyzer test from any driver they pull over. Previously, officers could only test if they had a reasonable suspicion the driver was impaired. Any driver who refuses to take the test can be charged.
Watch below: How do officers test drivers they suspect are impaired? Cpl. Richard Nowak with the Alberta RCMP puts on a demonstration of the standardized field sobriety test.