Canada's federal department of justice may expand impaired driving legislation to allow police to administer roadside breath tests randomly, regardless of whether or not officers suspect the driver has been drinking, Canwest News Service reported.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said that the department is mulling a proposed amendment to the Criminal Code during a keynote address at the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada annual conference on Sept. 26, 2009.
However, debate is swirling around whether or not the random testing would constitute a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in that the charter guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure, Canada.com reported.
Currently, unless a driver admits to drinking, the police currently need visible signs of impairment in order to demand a roadside breath test on a screening device, according to a July 2009, MADD Canada report, Random Breath Testing: A Review of the Evidence.
“American research indicates that using these enforcement techniques, the police failed to detect more than 60% of legally impaired drivers stopped at sobriety checkpoints,” the report said.
Random breath testing has been implemented in countries such as Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
“In Queensland, Australia, random breath testing was estimated to have reduced total fatal crashes by 35% between 1988 and 1992, preventing an estimated 789 fatal crashes in that period,” the report said.