The amended Section 253 of the Criminal Code dealing with impaired driving has been the source of confusion and criticism across Canada since it came into force in December of last year. (Lakes District News file photo)

Three drivers found impaired, most sober during holidays, RCMP says

Three drivers in the Burns Lake area were caught drunk driving during the holiday period, Burns Lake RCMP said.

“While most drivers were safe, the detachment did catch and process three motorists who failed roadside breath tests and subsequently they lost their licenses under the immediate roadside prohibition program,” Cpl. Greg Willcocks told Lakes District News.

The police found that the majority of motorists were sober and the Burns Lake RCMP set up eight check stops on the roads during December to check drivers’ sobriety.

“I was happy to see that a very high percentage of the people out on the roads during this Christmas season were driving safe and were sober, we saw lots of designated drivers,” Cpl. Willcocks added.

The good news about mostly sober driving in the area during the holidays comes amid some head-scratching and criticism across Canada over the tougher rules around drunk driving of the amended Section 253 of the Criminal Code.

LOOK BACK: Stricter drunk driving laws to take effect across Canada today

Stories of police – empowered by the new rules – conducting checks regarded as invasive have circulated in some Canadian media.

READ MORE: Returning bottles to the Beer Store? Beware of possible breath test by police

FOCUS: Canada’s revamped impaired driving law brews ‘potential for injustice’

When it comes to drivers, police can only demand a breath sample if the driver has been legally stopped.

“If police pull over a motorist it must be for a lawful reason,” Cpl. Willcocks explained. “Examples of this could include speeding, running a red light, checking a vehicle for insurance, checking the sobriety of the driver and to ensure the driver has a valid drivers license.”

The breath test is one of the new features of the amended law.

“Under the new legislation a police officer can demand a Breathalyzer test from any driver without having reasonable suspicion that they have alcohol in their body,” he said.

Another feature of the law, and a more confusing one is its subsection 3, which prohibits 80 milligrams blood alcohol content (BAC) two hours after driving.

One of the aims of that section is to counter the “perceived problem of the ruse, if you will, of someone having a lot of alcohol subsequent to their driving to mask the fact they had been impaired at the time,” said Micheal Vonn, policy director for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

However, it is hard to say if police would regularly try to enforce that section, and Vonn and others in the legal community think that part of the law will soon be challenged in court.

– with files from Tom Zytaruk

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