Sobriety checks just on road

Penticton cops say new laws regarding breathalyzer tests won't mean they will be showing up at people's doors demanding a sample unless a larger investigation is underway. 

Bill C-46 came into effect late last year, allowing police to administer tests for impaired driving without any evidence that the vehicle operator is drunk or high — a change Penticton RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager called significant

But social media users have been fired up in recent days over the understanding that now, police can operate on a tip that a person has been driving under the influence and walk up to their home to demand a breathalyzer for up to two hours after the incident, and the person could face arrest at that point and be forced the prove they were sober while behind the wheel earlier. 

De Jager said concerns that this type of police leeway would infringe upon the rights of the general public are unfounded. He said the only way he can see Penticton RCMP knocking on a door asking for a breath sample is if the action is part of a larger investigation. 

"This isn't just some police officer randomly going to a house, 'I heard you were drinking and driving,' there's a whole investigation that's ongoing and it's linked to a serious event," De Jager said, saying a hit-and-run where a license plate was recorded and a description of the driver noted is a good example of a situation in which police may go to a house. 

"Then there's a number of steps we would have to do to prove in court that this was that driver. There's a lot to that," he added. 

Higher on the list of priorities for the Penticton RCMP in terms of combatting impaired driving are traffic stops, rather than going to people's homes.

"If we can convince someone to not drink and drive, because he knows there's a check stop down the road, that's a win," De Jager said. "It's not to say that we can't do that, but if we did do it, it's part of an investigation. I just won't randomly be going to a person's house and asking them to blow into an instrument."

He said infringing on people's rights is the last thing he wants to do. 

"We're the people that slap on body armour and all of the tools around our waist to protect people's rights, that's what we'll do, we'll stand in front of the bad man to do that."

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