While there are limitations to consider in the interpretation of the data presented in this legislative review report, it includes findings covering both the period prior to the coming into force of the Act (2016-2018), as well as the first few years post enactment (2019-2021). This allows for some assessment of the implementation and impact of the changes. Due to the time and resource intensive nature of data collection, post-implementation data is not currently available to assess all aspects of the Act. Therefore, the data presented serve as a baseline for some aspects of the Act, as well as a preliminary assessment of other elements of the impaired driving regime introduced under the Act.
In meeting its ultimate objective of reducing deaths and injuries caused by impaired drivers on Canadian roads, available data from the first year post-implementation indicate that impaired driving fatalities decreased. Police-reported statistics show an uptick in the number of impaired driving incidents reported by police, which may be attributable to the increased police investigative powers under the Act. A study commissioned for this report (Beirness 2020) shows promising early data that MAS is an efficient and effective tool for combatting alcohol-impaired driving.
The Act was also designed to create a more efficient impaired driving legislative framework, partially to address efficiencies in criminal courts associated with impaired driving cases. There is not currently a sufficient amount of court data available from the post-implementation period to assess the impact of the Act on efficiency in the courts.
The Act created a new and strengthened drug-impaired driving regime to coincide with the legalization of cannabis in 2018. Available data shows targets set for police training are on track or being exceeded. Road safety data (Brubacher et al. 2021, Asbridge 2021) indicates that cannabis-impaired driving is an emerging issue that needs to be monitored, though alcohol-impaired driving remains the greatest crash risk on the roads. Early evidence from criminal justice system data shows the complexity of the drug-impaired driving regime (cases take longer to be cleared, and were less likely to be cleared by charge), and to date, the new BDC provisions have led to few police-reported incidents.
Research commissioned for this report to assess the impact of the Act on Indigenous peoples and racialized groups show that these groups are more likely to have concerns about being charged with an alcohol- or drug-impaired driving offence, despite having similar or lower rates of self-reported impaired driving behaviour. The study also found Indigenous peoples were more likely to experience a police traffic stop compared to White people (Department of Justice 2021).
The Minister of Justice will continue ongoing efforts with the provinces and territories to monitor the implementation of the Act and impact of the changes, including through further research and data collection.
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