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New impaired driving laws take effect

Ontario Provincial Police officers have new authority for investigating impaired drivers as part two of Bill C-46 comes into effect Tuesday, Dec. 18.

Police officers will now be able to demand breath samples from any driver they lawfully stop. Until now, officers had to have a reasonable suspicion that a driver had alcohol in their system before demanding a sample.

It is mandatory for drivers to comply with this demand and those who do not can be charged with failing or refusing to provide a breath sample.

Drivers impaired by alcohol will also face higher mandatory minimum fines and some higher maximum penalties. Maximum penalties for many alcohol-impaired driving offences are being bumped up to 10 years from five. It also permits an earlier enrolment in a provincial ignition interlock program.

“The new mandatory alcohol screening serves as an important deterrent to drivers who are impaired by alcohol, including those who believe they can avoid detection by police,” stated Gary Couture, interim commissioner with the OPP. “So far this year, alcohol and/or drugs have been a factor in the deaths of 41 people on OPP-patrolled roads.

“Every person who uses our roads has the right to be safe. The OPP fully supports this and any other legislation that enhances our ability to reduce the number of preventable deaths attributed to this deadly driving behaviour.”

The OPP has laid more than 7,300 impaired driving charges across the province between Jan. 1 and mid-November, 2018.

If you suspect that a person is driving or about to drive impaired by alcohol or drugs, you should call 9-1-1 to report them to police.

Penalties for impaired driving as of Dec. 18, 2018

Alcohol-impaired driving that does not cause bodily harm or death – mandatory minimum penalties:
First offence + blood alcohol content (BAC) of 80-119 mg: mandatory minimum $1,000 fine
First offence + BAC of 120-159 mg: mandatory minimum $1,500 fine
First offence + BAC of 160 mg or more: mandatory minimum $2,000 fine
First offence of refusal to be tested: mandatory minimum $2,000 fine
Second offence: mandatory minimum 30 days imprisonment
Third and subsequent offences: mandatory minimum 120 days imprisonment

Bill C-46 passed in June. Part 1 relates to drug-impaired driving and created three new offences for having specified levels of a drug in the blood within two hours of driving. The new laws introduce new “hybrid” charges that deal with drunk-and-stoned drivers.

Learn more about Bill C-46 at https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/sidl-rlcfa/c46/p3.html

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  1. Chris Keen says:

    As important as this issue is, it will eventually be tested at the Supreme Court of Canada. I am sure the Court will find stopping a driver without a reasonable suspicion they are impaired is unconstitutional.

  2. Gary says:

    Reducing impaired driving is important as most all would agree. This however is basically search & seizure without any cause or reason. We need to be cautious of how many rights we relinquish to the police.

  3. Susan says:

    One waants to be very careful using mouthwash which is very high in alcohol content. Could be an issue when you are demanded to blow on the way to work in the morning.

  4. Chuck says:

    The demand for a breath sample without cause I expect will be challenged as a Charter rights violation.

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