Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair looks on as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould respond to a question about drinking and driving laws during a news conference in Ottawa, Tuesday December 4, 2018. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair looks on as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould respond to a question about drinking and driving laws during a news conference in Ottawa, Tuesday December 4, 2018. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Liberals defend new powers to demand roadside breath samples

Alcohol screening regulations taking effect Dec. 18 will let police to demand a breath sample from any driver they stop

Federal ministers are playing down the potential for racial profiling and civil-rights violations as they tout strict new measures against drunk driving.

Mandatory alcohol screening regulations taking effect Dec. 18 will allow police to demand a breath sample from any driver they lawfully stop — a lower bar than the current threshold, which requires suspicion the person has been drinking.

READ MORE: Driving with dope: Police talk rules on cannabis in the car

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

The government says the aim is to save lives by helping police catch drivers with more than the legal limit of alcohol in their bloodstreams.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says she’s confident the measure is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair says 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.

The Canadian Press


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