Breath tests for drivers

Increasing people’s perception that they will be arrested if they drive drunk

In December 2010, the Quebec government asked the federal government to legalize the use of random breath testing (RBT). RBT allows the police to stop any and all drivers at random and require them to take a breath test, even if there is no reason to suspect that there is alcohol in the driver’s body.

Random breath testing is different from the selective breath testing (SBT) that Canadians are accustomed to, which allows police to ask a driver to take a breath test only if they suspect that the person’s blood BAC is above the legal limit.

According to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, RBT is one of the best ways to achieve a significant reduction in the number of road accident injuries and fatalities.

However, RBT has been criticized by defenders of civil liberties, notably the Bar of Quebec, which opposes it because “police use of random breath testing to find impaired drivers, without suspicion or reasonable cause, constitutes an unacceptable breach of civil liberties.”

Because of the particular issues at stake, Éduc’alcool has conducted a detailed analysis of RBT. A number of arguments have been made, both for and against, but since RBT increases people’s perception that they will be caught if they break the law, Éduc’alcool is in favour of it.

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