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Road Safety ahead of Cannabis

News Release

Ontario Improving Road Safety Ahead of Cannabis Legalization

September 18, 2017

New Measures Include Tougher Penalties to Deter Drug-Impaired Driving

To help keep roads safe, Ontario plans to introduce new measures to make drug-impaired driving laws even tougher. 

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation, were in Toronto today to announce that Ontario plans to introduce legislation this fall that would increase the consequences and costs for those who drive under the influence of drugs, including cannabis. The measures add to Ontario’s comprehensive cannabis plan, introduced in advance of the federal government’s plans to legalize recreational cannabis by July 2018.

In Ontario, the penalties for impaired driving are already among the toughest in Canada. The province has been working closely with public health and safety experts, police, and federal and municipal governments to develop the proposed measures, which build on Ontario’s recent action to align penalties for drug-impaired driving with those already in place for drunk drivers.

New, tougher laws against drug-impaired driving will include zero tolerance for:

  • Young drivers aged 21 and under
  • Novice drivers — G1, G2, M1 and M2 licence holders
  • All commercial drivers.

Zero tolerance means that drivers should not get behind the wheel if they have any detectable presence of drugs or alcohol in their system. For cannabis, the federal government will be approving a screening device and setting the thresholds for detectable presence in the coming months.

Ontario’s legislation would also increase monetary penalties for all drivers who fail, or refuse to perform, a sobriety test.

As the federal legalization of cannabis approaches, Ontario plans to convene a summit in the fall of 2017 with policing partners, public health and other stakeholders. With the goal of keeping communities safe, the summit will be an opportunity to identify the resources necessary to address illegal storefront cannabis sales, proposed provincial offences, enforcement, opportunities for coordination and collaboration, and associated resource requirements.

Proposed New Measures for Drug-Impaired Driving

September 18, 2017 9:20 A.M.

Ministry of Transportation

To help keep roads safe, Ontario plans to introduce new legislation to make drug-impaired driving laws even tougher. These tough new measures would be in addition to penalties for an impaired driving conviction under the Criminal Code of Canada. If passed, the new measures would include:

Young and Novice Drivers

  • Creating a zero tolerance approach prohibiting young (age 21 and under) and novice drivers (G1, G2, M1, M2) from having the presence of a drug in their system, as detected by a federally approved oral fluid screening device
  • Aligning existing zero tolerance for alcohol sanctions for this group with the proposed sanctions for zero tolerance for drugs
  • The proposed zero tolerance penalties for drugs or alcohol are:
  Licence suspension Monetary penalty Other penalties
First occurrence 3 days $250 Other penalties, such as mandatory education or treatment programs may also apply for repeat offenders.
Second occurrence 7 days $350
Third and subsequent occurrences 30 days $450

Commercial Drivers

  • Creating a zero tolerance approach prohibiting commercial drivers from having the presence of either alcohol and/or drugs in their system, as detected by a federally approved screening device
  • The proposed penalties are:   
  Licence suspension Monetary penalty Other penalties
First occurrence 3 days $250 Other penalties, such as mandatory education or treatment programs may also apply for repeat offenders.
Second occurrence 3 days $350
Third and subsequent occurrences 3 days $450

All Drivers

  • Enhancing Ontario’s existing penalties by introducing escalating monetary penalties that would apply to all impaired driving sanctions (alcohol and/or drugs)
  • Drivers found to be in the warn range (Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) between .05 and .08) or drug-impaired drivers who fail a roadside Standardized Field Sobriety Test would face:
  Licence suspension Monetary penalty Other penalties
First occurrence 3 days* $250 Mandatory education or treatment programs, and an ignition interlock requirement*
Second occurrence 7 days* $350
Third and subsequent occurrences 30 days* $450
*Current sanctions that will not change due to the ministry’s proposals

·         Alcohol impaired drivers (BAC above 0.08), drug-impaired drivers (as determined by an evaluation from a drug recognition expert) and any drivers who fail or refuse to submit to tests under the Criminal Code would face:

 

  Licence suspension Monetary penalty Other penalties
First occurrence 90 days* $550 Mandatory education or treatment programs, and an ignition interlock requirement*
Second occurrence 90 days* $550
Third and subsequent occurrences 90 days* $550
*Current sanctions that will not change due to the ministry’s proposals

NOTE: Unlike a fine, which is imposed once a driver has pled guilty or been convicted, monetary penalties are provincial administrative sanctions applied at the time of the offence.

 

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Resources

MTO-Stakeholder-Consultations-Road-Building-MachinesVehicle-Weight-and-Dimension-Limits-in-Ontario.

Ministry of Transportation website for Trucks and Buses
Commercial Vehicle Operators’ Safety Manual

Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA)
National Safety Code Standard 11 (Part B the Periodic Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspections starts on page 46)