OPINION BY ALEX TAYLOR
Despite the purest intentions, Bill C-46 misses the point.
A new bill that came into effect last month drastically overhauled the power police hold in testing suspected impaired drivers. As of December 18th, the police do not need to have any reasonable grounds to request a driver submit to impaired driving testing, a new wrinkle that surprised many drivers throughout the holidays. But now, some of the finer points of bill C-46 are coming to light, and the implications are disturbing.
As CBC reported Friday, police now theoretically have the power to arrest anyone for impaired driving- even if you aren’t driving. The problem lawmakers claim they were dealing with, was a rare one. Citizens were drinking large amounts of alcohol at bars, and driving home quickly before the alcohol entered their blood system. In this situation, the driver could not be arrested if stopped, because his/her body would not show they were over the limit. So, federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould had her own bold solution. Police could now arrest anyone who has driven a car or boat within the last two hours who is now drunk, on the suspicion that they “would” drink and drive.
As the CBC story further explains, any group of people who now plan a night out better make sure the designated driver is the driver on arrival, or the police could theoretically stop them upon leaving and charge them with impaired driving.
It’s an amazing new skill Wilson-Raybould has attributed to officers across the country. Despite what we’ve previously thought, they are now apparently fully omniscient. We will now be arrested before we commit the crimes, because we were almost assuredly going to commit them, right?
If you’re thinking “hey, I’ve seen this one before,” you’re not alone. Have police officers been given precrime training like Tom Cruise in Minority Report? They must have. Or, how could they make sense of the mumbling precogs and their veiled prophecies? Apparently, the Canadian justice department felt that Philip K. Dick and Steven Spielberg were on to something. I guess they didn’t catch the ending. (spoiler alert)
People were quick to comment on the CBC article, in response to Bill C-46.
Not a single logical person would argue that impaired driving isn’t reckless, dangerous, and should be punished. Any proposed punishment for those caught endangering themselves and everyone else on the road would and should be welcomed by the driving public. But this new bill attempts to solve a rare and illogical problem with a solution that is complicated, hypocritical and frankly unconstitutional.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Section 11 (d) states people are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent or impartial tribunal.
It’s a fundamental piece of our Canadian freedom, one that we all theoretically share.
Unless a police officer thinks you may drive tonight.
Then, even if you are sitting snuggled in the back seat with the designated driver ahead of you, you have been assumed guilty of impaired driving.
It’s not that Bill C-46 doesn’t try to solve the problem.
It just misses the point.