Ontario introduces new drug-impaired driving penalties ahead of pot legalization

Sep 18 2017, 10:04 pm

After announcing its comprehensive plan to regulate federally legalized marijuana, the Ontario Government has introduced new measures for drug-impaired driving.

On Monday, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca introduce legislation that would increase the consequences and costs for those who drive under the influence of drugs, including weed.

Penalties for impaired driving in Ontario are already among the toughest in the country, and now the province has worked on a plan to align with those already in place for drunk drivers.

The new laws against drug-impaired driving will include zero tolerance for drivers aged 21 and under, new drivers (those with G1, G2, M1 and M2), and all commercial drivers.

This means that drivers in those categories should have no drugs or alcohol in their system.

“There is no excuse for impaired driving — whether it is due to drugs or alcohol,” said Wynne in a statement. “It is unacceptable, dangerous and the consequences can be tragic and life-changing. Our zero tolerance policies for the highest-risk drivers are about keeping Ontario’s roads safe and protecting people across the province.”

According to the province, 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 we get ready for the legalization of cannabis, we are working to make our impaired-driving laws even tougher and keep our roads safe. Impaired driving, whether by drugs or alcohol, is illegal, dangerous and it’s never okay,” said Del Duca.

According to the 2014 Ontario Road Safety Annual Report, 29% of all road fatalities that year involved a driver impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.

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