Impaired driving checks unconstitutional, civil liberties group says

A Canadian civil liberties group is unhappy with a new Calgary Police Service policy that will see every driver pulled over by police or going through a Checkstop subject to a roadside sobriety test.

But for Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the city’s police force isn’t to blame for adopting the new policy.

“Police are just availing themselves of the new federal law. The villain in this story is not the Calgary police but Justin Trudeau and the federal government for passing a law that basically totally ignores the presumption of innocence,” Bryant said.

In 2018, Ottawa introduced new laws that allow police to demand a breath sample from any driver they lawfully pull over, even if they have no suspicion of intoxication, with drivers who refuse to take a sobriety test potentially subject to the same penalties as someone who is driving impaired.

The new change in Calgary is that police will start every interaction with a stopped vehicle by administering a breath sample from the driver, something Bryant argues is unconstitutional.

“Unless there’s reasonable and probable cause that somebody’s intoxicated, they don’t have any evidence of a crime,” he said. “There’s limits and one of them is constitutional.”