Friday, 29 October 2010

CBC News - Nfld. & Labrador - N.L. police need no reason to stop drivers

N.L. police need no reason to stop drivers

Province's Highway Traffic Act changes Friday

Last Updated: Thursday, September 30, 2010 | 6:43 PM NT Comments174Recommend43

CBC News
Provincial Government Services Minister Kevin O'Brien says the changes are part of a crackdown on drunk driving.Provincial Government Services Minister Kevin O'Brien says the changes are part of a crackdown on drunk driving. (CBC)

Police in Newfoundland and Labrador will be able to pull over drivers without having to give a reason beginning Friday.

Legislative changes made to the Highway Traffic Act to address safety on the province's highways come into effect Oct. 1.

Government Services Minister Kevin O'Brien said it's part of an effort to crack down on impaired driving.

"We brought that forward because the police were having a problem in regards to having a specific item to pull a driver over, had to be visual and if you didn't have a specific item to pull them over and they were impaired or under the influence of drugs, or whatever, there is a perception that it wouldn't hold up in court," O'Brien said Thursday.

When the change was proposed last spring, St. John's criminal lawyer Bob Simmons said it would give police too much power and could lead to abuse.

"Right now for police to stop people, they have to have a justifiable objective cause. Why is that? Because if we don't have a reasonable rational reason for police to stop someone then the powers can be misused. That's the law as it presently sits," he said in June.

Beginning Friday, texting with a hand-held device while driving will also be illegal. Fines will range from $100 to $400.

According to a government news release, the legislative changes that will be proclaimed as of Oct. 1, 2010, will:

  • Authorize police to use traffic safety stops as a means of determining whether drivers are impaired, driving while suspended or driving without insurance, among other serious offences.
  • Increase the current 24-hour driver's licence suspension to a minimum of seven days (14 days for a repeat offence) for drivers with a blood alcohol level of greater than 0.05 per cent, down from 0.08 per cent.
  • Reduce the allowable blood alcohol level to 0.0 per cent from the current .05 per cent, for drivers accompanying a novice driver.
  • Prohibit the use of electronic devices such as cellphones, BlackBerries and iPhones to send or read text messages, or programming GPS devices while the vehicle is in motion, which can distract drivers from driving safely.

Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia now have similar legislation, banning not only cellphones but also the use of additional and newer electronic devices.

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Story comments (174)

709bigd55 wrote:Posted 2010/10/07
at 6:18 PM ET
I hope this will be the end of this government. Legislation like this should not even be considered as it will give the police to profile, now if they don't like the way you look they can stop you without reason. As far as I am concerned they should never get another vote. As Canadians we want more rights and freedom then everbody else, we don't want to give up the rights we already enjoy.
VerbTheAdjectiveNoun wrote:Posted 2010/10/06
at 8:20 PM ET
Well then. Looks like I'll be leaving my car at home if I ever travel to Newfoundland. Wouldn't want them to pull me over for no reason other than having Ontario plates and noting that I carry tools in my trunk at all times to repair my vehicle on my own instead of paying others to do it. Already get suspicious reactions from border guards questioning my need to carry a full socket set with some specialty tools specifically for my car.
JodieEmery wrote:Posted 2010/10/06
at 2:15 PM ET
Why do police want to do random road-side breathalyzer checks on drivers to test them for impairment? If a vehicle is recklessly swerving on the road or driving dangerously in any other way, then it doesn’t matter what substance the driver has consumed. What matters is the dangerous driving, which is demonstrated visually and does not require drug or alcohol testing. The proof of competence is in performance.

This legislation is unfairly penalizing people who are not impaired behind the wheel. Police will easily impound thousands of vehicles, and bring in millions of dollars in fines, without the vehicle operators ever being an actual threat to safety on the road. Again, the proof of competence is in performance; if the driver is not driving dangerously, there is no need to pull him or her over.

Jodie Emery
BC Green Party policing critic

Tiberiusduck wrote:Posted 2010/10/05
at 3:46 PM ET

This Is Outrageous and Beyond Any Belief.
My God, who the hell do these people think they are. Damn it folks, we live in a free country called Canada that has a "Charter of Rights". This is not the former Soviet Union or North Korea.
I have Rights as a Canadian Citizen.
What's next Premier Williams,... the Police will have the right to arbitrarily enter my home without warrant or perhaps forcibly abduct and detain me for as long as they ( the Police) want without having to notify anyone that I had been taken against my rights as a Canadian?!!

My mind is just reeling with thoughts of early Nazi Germany when Hitler came to power and remember folks, that all started off by Hitler doing the exact same thing to the free German Citizenery.
How dare you Premier Williams. Shame on you sir for trying to destroy that which our Newfoundland and Labrador men and women have fought and died for. "Our Freedoms."

This all has to stop now my fellow Newfoundanders and Labradorians.

From day one, I have always been a staunch supporter of Premier Danny Williams but if this "Fascist Legislation" goes through then I will no longer give any support to this man. I will be done.

"The Absolute Gall" of this man now frightens me to no end. How dare you sir try to arbitrarily end one of my Rights as a Canadian Citizen!!! Your Absolute Gall has a very unpleasant stench about it like another "Would Be Dictatorial Premier" of this province by the name of "Joseph R Smallwood".

"Let me repeat again to this Premier, if this legislation is made law, my vote will forever go elsewhere."

RM1976 wrote:Posted 2010/10/05
at 3:24 PM ET
Section Nine of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

Any one of you on here saying that giving up rights for safety you need to put down your coloring books and pick up some history books.

This story is now closed to commenting.

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Please note that comments are published according to our submission guidelines.