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Calgary Police Pushing for Legislation to Curb Drunk Driving

Posted in Drunk Driving

Police in Calgary, Alberta, are calling for tougher measures against drunk drivers, hoping to change the law so anyone can be pulled over without reasonable grounds of suspicion. The legislation is currently before parliament.

"Drinking and driving kills and I’ll do anything to remove drunk drivers from the road," says Acting SSgt. Graeme Ramsay from the Calgary Police Service.

Calgary’s police chief is calling for the tougher measures because he says the current laws are ineffective. Currently, officers can give a breathalyzer test only if they suspect a driver is impaired. After that, police say they must maneuver through complicated legal procedures that are often challenged in court.

"Slightly over 50 percent of impaired driving charges result in a conviction. That means half don’t and that’s a really bad average," says Chief Rick Hanson.

Lawyers who defend alleged drunk drivers say the new law would violate another fundamental right: the one that protects everyone against unreasonable search and seizure.

"By simply giving police more powers to do whatever they do – to stop a vehicle when they want, how they want – that’s not the way to do it," says Steve Virk, a lawyer.

"As much as people think the police are going to drive around and put them on a breathalyzer, that’s not going to happen. We don’t have the resources. What it allows us to do is deal more effectively with impaired driving," says Chief Hanson.

Twenty other countries have implemented the random roadside screening legislation. In Australia, drunk-driving fatalities dropped 36 percent, and in Ireland, they dropped 23 percent.