Liberals defend new powers to demand roadside breath samples

0

OTTAWA — 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.

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