Pubdate: Mon, 27 Oct 2014
Source: Northumberland Today (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Sun Media
Author: Peter Epp


It's about time the Ontario government beefed up legislation to
include new penalties for drug-impaired drivers.

As the use of narcotics, both prescribed and illegal, becomes more
prevalent, their use is having an impact on our roads. Ontario must
deal with drugs and driving in the same fashion as with drinking and
driving - with tough laws.

And so the government's announcement Tuesday is appropriate. It is
proposing amendments to its distracted driving bill that would include
new penalties for drug-impaired drivers.

As with the legislation that oversees drinking and driving, those who
drive under the influence of narcotics would be subject to roadside
suspensions, mandatory education or treatment, an ignition interlock
condition, and a sevenday vehicle impoundment.

That's good. As Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca noted on
Tuesday, more than 45% of all collisions involving vehicles that
resulted in deaths "had individuals who were either under the
influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol."

The technology to identify drivers under the influence of narcotics is
also being improved. In most cases, police must take a suspect in for
further evaluation, but roadside technology is being introduced to
provide police tools to identify drivers at the roadside.

The proposal also has the approval of the Ontario Safety League, which
notes nations such as Australia have already developed and implemented
technology to allow police to better do their job in determining drug
impairment of a driver.

Indeed, the police community appears to be a few steps ahead of the
government in this regard.

Over 1,300 officers have already been trained to identify
drug-impaired motorists.

This problem has been with us for quite some time. Only now is
government responding as it should. Most Canadian provinces have
already addressed the challenge of drugs and driving.

Still, it's rare when any proposed legislation receives near unanimous
approval of the Opposition parties, but this legislation is one of
them. Praise has come from the New Democrats and the Conservatives,
both parties agreeing with the Liberal government driving under the
influence of narcotics is as serious as driving under the influence of
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