The federal government introduced Tuesday a bill that proposes to change Canada's driving-related criminal offences, increasing minimum sentences for drivers who kill people in collisions and taking away the loophole that lets drunk drivers claim they quickly consumed alcohol after they stopped driving.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay tabled Bill C-73, the Dangerous and Impaired Driving Act, in the House of Commons June 16.

If passed into law it would repeal sections 249 through 261 of the Criminal Code and replace them with sections 320.11 through 320.32.

The minimum penalty, for impaired driving causing death, would be increased from a $1,000 fine to six years in prison. That same minimum applies to a driver who was involved in an accident causing death and refuses to provide a breath sample.

The crime of driving with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.08% would be changed to having a blood alcohol level of more than .08% "within two hours of driving," the justice department stated in a press release.

"This would eliminate the bolus drinking defence and strictly limit the intervening drink defence," the justice department added.

Bolus drinking is when a driver "claims to have quickly consumed several drinks just before driving" as a result the blood alcohol level at the time of driving was actually less than .08%. "The 'intervening drink defence' is when an accused claims to have consumed alcohol after being stopped by the police or after a collision" and claims their blood alcohol level “would not have been over” 0.08% when driving.

In the preamble to the bill, the government states it is important to "simplify the law relating to the proof of blood alcohol concentration" and to "deter persons from consuming alcohol after driving in circumstances where they have a reasonable expectation that they would be required to provide a sample of breath or blood."

The transportation-related offences that the ruling Conservatives intend to create with Bill C-73 include dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop after a collision, flight from police and driving while prohibited.

If passed into law, the bill would add section 320.18 to the criminal code, which would make it a criminal offence to operate a "conveyance" while prohibited from doing so, either by an order made under the federal law or "under provincial law in respect of a conviction" under this Criminal Code.

It is already a Criminal Code offence to fail to stop for police. However, Bill C-73 would change the wording such that the driver's failure to stop would no longer have to be to “evade the peace officer.” It would simply be an offence to fail to stop, "without reasonable excuse," as soon as is it "reasonable in the circumstances."

Source: Canadian Underwriter


Last updated on: 2015-06-22 | Link to this post