The Alcohol Test Committee (ATC) has existed in various forms since the introduction of Canada’s per se legal limit. Its ten person membership is made up of experienced forensic alcohol scientists from across Canada who advise the Federal Minister of Justice on matters pertaining to alcohol testing in drinking and driving.
The ATC has kept abreast of advancements in breath test technology. Since the advent of one of the first approved instruments, the Borkenstein Breathalyzer, breath testing technology has made significant advancements and the ATC has been in the forefront of evaluating those instruments in Canada.
Some early highlights for the committee include the introduction of road-side screening devices, the advent of automated breath test equipment, mobile breath testing and provisions to demand blood samples.
Along with these technological advancements have come the advancements in quality assurance protocols. The ATC has recommended best practices and quality assurance guidelines for breath testing, which has strengthened breath testing programs in Canada. While breath alcohol testing is unlikely to disappear in the near future, other non-breath related technologies are emerging and the Committee, as always, will be ready to deal with those technologies as they become viable.
Drinking and driving is one of, if not the most, vigorously litigated offence in our Courts and the ATC has been a key player in offering scientific advice to the Minister regarding contemplated or real changes to the Criminal Code of Canada. Litigation arising from the last major revision of the Code led the Committee to produce, for the first time, a position paper: “Documentation Required for Assessing the Accuracy and Reliability of Approved Instrument Breath Alcohol Test Results”. This landmark paper has been referred to in countless trials since it was published and it is clear that the Courts hold the Committee’s views in high regard.
D.J. Mayers, Toronto, ON (Chair)
V.M. Mendes, Vancouver, BC (Vice-Chair)
T.C. Cherlet, Edmonton, AB
P.M. Harding, Madison, WI
G. Huppe, Montreal, QC
T.L. Martin, Toronto, ON
M. Rosland, Vancouver, BC
J. Tremblay, Montreal, QC
B.K. Wong, Ottawa, ON