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Mandatory alcohol screening at RIDE Spotchecks 

The new laws will give police officers the authority to demand breathalyzer tests from any driver they pull over. Previously, officers could only test drivers if they had a reasonable suspicion the person was impaired. Any driver who refuses to take the test can be charged.

These stronger laws are similar to ones in several other countries around the world, such as Australia, Denmark, France and Germany. In Ireland, mandatory screening reduced the number of road deaths by about 40 per cent in the first four years it was enforced.

No more ‘bolus drinking defence’

Before Dec. 18, drivers could use the bolus drinking defence, arguing that they consumed alcohol just before driving and it was not absorbed yet.

The new law eliminates this defence, by making it illegal to be at or over the alcohol limit within two hours of being behind the wheel.

READ MORE: Heavy share of Canadian pot users admits to driving within 2 hours of toking up, study says

Updated penalties

The new law also bumps up the maximum penalties for many alcohol-impaired driving offences.

Formerly, the mandatory minimum fines were: $1,000 for first offence, 30 days imprisonment for second offence, and 120 days in jail for a third offence.

These are the penalties now:

    First offence, with blood alcohol content of 80-119 mg: mandatory minimum $1,000 fine
    First offence, with blood alcohol content of 120-159 mg: mandatory minimum $1,500 fine
    First offence, with blood alcohol content of 160 mg or more: mandatory minimum $2,500 fine
    First offence, but refuse to be tested: mandatory minimum $2,000 fine
    Second offence: mandatory minimum 30 days imprisonment
    Third or more offence: mandatory minimum 120 days imprisonment
    Maximum penalties for impaired driving causing no bodily harm or death: summary conviction carries two years less a day imprisonment, indictment carries 10 years imprisonment
    Maximum penalties for impaired driving causing bodily harm: Summary conviction for less severe injuries carries two years less a day imprisonment, indictment carries 14 years imprisonment
    Maximum penalty impaired driving causing death: life imprisonmentore: mand

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