A change in breathalyzer rules likely won’t make much difference for seasoned officers.

New federal rules will soon allow officers to administer a roadside sobriety test without specifically needing a reasonable cause to do so.  Central OPP Sergeant Jason Folz says this means an officer doesn’t need to smell booze on your breath or see evidence of drinking in your car just to give you the test.

But, Folz says most officers have become pretty adept at spotting a drunk driver, even if they’re doing their best to hide it.

“We’ve been taking impaired drivers off the road for many years,” says Folz. “Impaired is impaired and you can see those signs without having to rely on the roadside screening device.”

He says it is nice an officer can now follow up on suspicion without needing a reasonable cause.

“Reasonable grounds means something more solid, you have to have a direct odour of alcohol, you have to have other evidence that somebody has been consuming alcohol, maybe it’s an admission of drinking,” says Folz. “This is just an extra ability to check somebody who maybe you think is drinking, but maybe you’re not sure.”

Folz says this likely doesn’t mean every driver that gets stopped in a RIDE program will be asked to take the test.

“It’ll be business as usual for us,” says Folz.

And don’t think you can opt out of taking the test, as you’ll be slapped with refusal to provide a breath sample. This means if you’re convicted you can face similar consequences for impaired driving charges including a fine and licence suspension.

The new rules come into effect on December 17th.