Pubdate: Tue, 19 Sep 2017
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Shawn Jeffords
Page: A8


Ontario plans to introduce tough new penalties f or drug-impaired
drivers ahead of the legalization of recreational marijuana next July.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said Monday there will be zero tolerance for
youths aged 21 and under, novice drivers and all commercial drivers
who have a detectable presence of drugs or alcohol in their system.
The province will also increase all monetary penalties and suspensions
for impaired driving offences.

The announcement comes a little over a week after Ontario's Liberal
government announced its plan to distribute and sell recreational
cannabis in as many as 150 dedicated stores run by the province's
liquor control board and set the legal age to buy the drug at 19.

"We had a goal to balance the new freedom that people in Ontario will
have to use cannabis recreationally with everyone's expectation that
it will be managed responsibly," Wynne said.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said the proposed changes
would align both drug and alcohol impaired driving offences under the
law. The new legislation would also increase penalties for drivers who
fail or refuse to provide a sample for a roadside test, he added.

"Let me be clear," Del Duca said. "Driving while impaired is not
acceptable and will not be tolerated. We believe that these measures
are an important step toward ensuring that Ontario's roads remain safe."

Under the proposed rules, young or novice drivers (with a G1, G2, M1
or M2 licence) would face licence suspensions from three to 30 days
and fines from $250 to $ 450 if they have drugs or alcohol in their
system. Currently, young and novice drivers face a 24- hour licence
suspension and no monetary penalty.

Commercial drivers would face a three-day licence suspension and
fines from $ 250 to $ 450 if they have drugs or alcohol in their
system. Currently, there are no targeted suspension or monetary fines
for commercial drivers under the province's driving laws.

Overall, under the proposed changes any driver who registers a warn or
fail on a roadside screening device would be fined anywhere from $ 250
to $ 450. The current fine is $ 198. Drivers who refuse to provide a
sample face a $ 550 fine under the proposed law, up from the current

The tougher Ontario penalties would be in addition to current federal
criminal charges, suspensions and possible jail time for impaired
driving. The federal government is expected to approve an oral fluid
screening device for police to use to detect drug-impaired drivers in
the coming months.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada CEO Andrew Murie praised t he
province for its proposed laws and said he hopes other provinces
follow Ontario's example.
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