section 254(2)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

This section allows a peace officer to demand physical coordination tests and breath samples from a person suspected of operating a vehicle or vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

SECTION WORDING

254(2) If a peace officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person has alcohol or a drug in their body and that the person has, within the preceding three hours, operated a motor vehicle or vessel, operated or assisted in the operation of an aircraft or railway equipment or had the care or control of a motor vehicle, a vessel, an aircraft or railway equipment, whether it was in motion or not, the peace officer may, by demand, require the person to comply with paragraph (a), in the case of a drug, or with either or both of paragraphs (a) and (b), in the case of alcohol: (a) to perform forthwith physical coordination tests prescribed by regulation to enable the peace officer to determine whether a demand may be made under subsection (3) or (3.1) and, if necessary, to accompany the peace officer for that purpose; and (b) to provide forthwith a sample of breath that, in the peace officers opinion, will enable a proper analysis to be made by means of an approved screening device and, if necessary, to accompany the peace officer for that purpose.

EXPLANATION

Section 254(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines the procedures that a peace officer must follow in order to demand physical coordination tests and breathalyzers from individuals who are suspected to have consumed alcohol or drugs before operating a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or railway equipment. The section requires that peace officers must have reasonable grounds to suspect that an individual has consumed alcohol or drugs within the preceding three hours before making a demand. Upon making a demand, individuals are required to comply with performing physical coordination tests and providing a sample of breath for analysis. The physical coordination tests prescribed by regulation are designed to help the peace officer determine whether a demand may be made under subsections (3) or (3.1) of the section. These subsections allow for further demands to be made for additional or different physical coordination tests, or for a blood sample to be taken for drug analysis if the peace officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the individual has committed an offense related to drug-impaired driving. The breath sample demanded under paragraph (b) of section 254(2) must be one that the peace officer believes will enable a proper analysis to be made using an approved screening device. If the analysis suggests that the individual's blood alcohol concentration exceeds the legal limit, the peace officer may make further demands for additional breathalyzer tests or, if necessary, a blood sample analysis. While the section may be seen as a tool for law enforcement to prevent impaired driving and promote road safety, it also provides important protections for individuals. For example, an individual may refuse to comply with the demand, but doing so could result in criminal charges. However, individuals who comply with the demand are entitled to a fair and impartial analysis of their breath sample and are protected against coercion or unreasonable demands. Overall, section 254(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada plays a crucial role in promoting public safety while upholding the rights of individuals.

COMMENTARY

Section 254(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada grants peace officers the authority to demand a person suspected of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol to undertake physical coordination tests and provide a breath sample. The provision is a vital tool for enforcing the law and ensuring public safety by curbing traffic accidents caused by drunk drivers. The section is among the most crucial in the Criminal Code of Canada as it provides the legal backing for most impaired driving arrests and prosecutions. Since its introduction in 1969, the section has undergone multiple amendments to align with current technological advancements and societal changes. For example, the use of breathalyzer machines to detect alcohol levels, and comprehensive drug screening procedures has become a staple of the law enforcement process. The provision's primary objective is to create a legal foundation for peace officers to stop and verify if an individual is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The peace officer relies on their experience and training and behavioral observations such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or unsteady walking, among others, to satisfy the reasonable grounds required to demand coordination tests and a breath sample. It is worth noting that failure to comply with the peace officer's demand is an offense under subsection 254(5) and attracts penalties like license suspension and fines. Refusing to provide bodily samples without a lawful excuse or reasonable justification is tantamount to non-compliance under the law. The provision, however, has garnered criticism from various stakeholders. For example, there have been debates regarding the constitutional implications of the provision regarding the right to privacy and the potential for misuse by state agencies. Others argue that the efficacy of physical coordination tests and breath tests in detecting alcohol and drug use is questionable. For instance, some medical conditions such as neurological and vision impairment may affect the accuracy of the results, making it unreliable as scientific evidence in court. Another criticism is the lack of clear guidelines for the use of drug screening procedures. The Canadian government recently legalized recreational marijuana consumption, making it difficult to establish a baseline standard for determining intoxication for different categories of drugs. In conclusion, section 254(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada plays a crucial role in rooting out drunk driving. It empowers peace officers to demand physical coordination tests and breath samples from individuals suspected of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While there have been criticisms of the provision, it remains an essential tool for maintaining public safety on Canadian roads and waterways.

STRATEGY

Section 254(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides the authorities a powerful tool to conduct alcohol or drug testing on individuals who are suspected of operating a vehicle or other equipment while impaired. When dealing with this section, there are strategic considerations that law enforcement officers, lawyers, and other professionals need to take into account. One of the significant strategic considerations when dealing with Section 254(2) is the nature of the evidence necessary to support a conviction. Evidence such as witness statements, video footage, and breathalyzer tests are critical to building a solid case against the accused. Moreover, the timing of the breathalyzer test can also impact the outcome of the case. As per subsection 255(2), if the arrestee blows over 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood within two hours of driving, they can be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada. Having a comprehensive knowledge of this requirement can help law enforcement during their investigation. Another essential consideration when dealing with Section 254(2) is the constitutional rights of the arrestee. Individuals have the right to counsel and may refuse to take any of the tests under certain conditions. Thus, it is crucial for law enforcement officers to be aware of these rights and act within the bounds of the law. Strategies that could be employed when trying to establish a case under Section 254(2) include, but are not limited to, the following: 1. Proper training: Law enforcement officers need to be adequately trained to recognize impaired drivers and document evidence that supports the case. This includes tests to detect the presence of drugs in a person's system. 2. Thorough investigation: Law enforcement authorities must conduct a thorough investigation, gathering evidence such as witness statements and video footage to present in court. 3. Use of technology: The use of technology such as breathalyzers, blood tests, and urine tests can act as crucial evidence when presenting the case in court. 4. Adhering to strict regulations: Law enforcement officers must adhere strictly to the regulations governing alcohol testing, such as procedures for taking samples and the operation and calibration of equipment. 5. Communication: Communication is essential in any criminal case. Law enforcement officers must establish effective methods of communication between stakeholders such as the prosecutor, defense counsel, and toxicologists to ensure a smooth and efficient process. In conclusion, Section 254(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada is crucial in ensuring that impaired driving is prevented. However, it requires careful consideration of various strategic factors to build a solid case that can hold up in court. Through the use of training, thorough investigations, technology, and adherence to strict regulations, law enforcement professionals can effectively deal with this section of the Criminal Code of Canada, thereby reducing the incidence of impaired driving.