Submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding Roadside Drug Testing

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The BCCLA opposes driving while impaired for any reason. Moreover, even in the absence of a demonstrable link between drug use and driving impairment, the BCCLA opposes the use of any potentially impairing drugs in close temporal proximity to driving. However, the provisions contained with Bill C-16 could significantly impact the liberty of Canadians, with little corresponding value added to the tools that police already have.

Police currently have a range of laws that allow them to deal with the problem of impaired driving. In British Columbia, for example, police can issue administrative suspensions that immediately remove unsafe drivers from the road. Police are trained to recognize behavioral symptoms of impairment and, ultimately, can charge a driver based on these observations. Finally, police can seek a warrant to obtain blood samples (or other bodily fluids) where reasonable and probable grounds for issuing the warrant exist. These existing mechanisms are both more effective and less costly than the scheme set forth in Bill C-16.

As more fully described below, Bill C-16 provides for the use of a non-validated procedure that significantly impacts civil liberties. Problematically, the public is provided no information as to the range of drugs that drivers are tested for, and swept aside is the important issue of whether the tests employed can demonstrate actual impairment. What is clear is that the legislative scheme set out poses significant problems related to civil liberties.

Read the submission