New impaired driving laws have come into effect across Canada today.

Some of the changes affect roadside breath samples. Police officers will now be able to demand a roadside breath sample from any lawfully stopped driver to determine whether a person has alcohol in their body without first having to suspect the motorist has been drinking. Until now, officers had to have a reasonable suspicion that a driver had alcohol in their body before demanding a sample.

The new law also bumps up the maximum penalties for many alcohol-impaired driving offences.

The new penalties are:

First offence, with blood alcohol content of 80-119 mg: mandatory minimum $1,000 fine

First offence, with blood alcohol content of 120-159 mg: mandatory minimum $1,500 fine

First offence, with blood alcohol content of 160 mg or more: mandatory minimum $2,500 fine

First offence, but refuse to be tested: mandatory minimum $2,000 fine

Second offence: mandatory minimum 30 days imprisonment

Third or more offence: mandatory minimum 120 days imprisonment

Maximum penalties for impaired driving causing no bodily harm or death: summary conviction carries two years less a day imprisonment, indictment carries 10 years imprisonment

Maximum penalties for impaired driving causing bodily harm: Summary conviction for less severe injuries carries two years less a day imprisonment, indictment carries 14 years imprisonment

Maximum penalty impaired driving causing death: life imprisonment

Changes to both drug and alcohol impaired driving come as part of the former Bill C-46.

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