Police want right to perform random breathalyzer test
Published Saturday, September 25, 2010 4:28PM PDT
Critics have complained that B.C.'s new drunk driving laws give cops too much power, but now police chiefs are calling for even more.
B.C.'s chiefs want the freedom to pull over anyone, anywhere, at any time of day and ask them to take random breathalyzer tests. Currently, an officer requires cause to get a breath sample.
"The randomness of catching people who are drinking and driving is pretty key to lowering the death rate and sending a very clear message to people that break the law," Victoria Police Chief Jamie Graham told CTV News.
"If people know there are going to be officers out there -- are not sure where they are -- maybe the message will finally get through to those people who just don't get it."
Criminal lawyer Paul Doroshenko agrees that people will continue to drink and drive if they think they can get away with it.
"Usually good people make a bad decision, but they persuade themselves, ‘Well you know what? I'm not going to get caught, and I did it once before and I didn't get caught,'" he said.
Random breath tests are supported unanimously by B.C.'s police chiefs, and they're already legal in more than 30 countries including France, Brazil, Italy and Japan.
But the BC Civil Liberties Association has said that new laws giving every police officer the power to take away drivers' licences, impound cars and impose fines already go too far.
Suspected drunk drivers no longer have the right to argue their case in front of an impartial judge, giving police the sole responsibility to determine if motorists are within the legal blood alcohol limit.
Robert Holmes, president of the BC Civil Liberties Association, told CTV News this week that officers are now "judge, jury and executioner."
Still, Graham says that privacy rights only go so far.
"This is that balance between your rights to be free from agents of the state, like myself, to the fact that we have a right to ensure that sober people get home safely," he said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's St. John Alexander