DUI will mean stricter penalties in Ontario

TORONTO, ON – Stricter penalties for young, novice, and commercial divers caught operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs and alcohol are coming to Ontario.

Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced the new measures Sept. 18 ahead of the legalization of marijuana nation-wide next July.

The government says it will have zero tolerance for those caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol for those drivers under the age of 21, those without a full “G” or “M” class license under Ontario’s graduated licensing system, and commercial drivers.

For that last group, the increased penalties will mean a three-day license suspension, and fines from $250 for a first offence, up to $450 for a third or subsequent offence. The government says other penalties, such as mandatory education or treatment programs may also apply for repeat offenders.

The penalties could also be levied against those that refuse to perform a roadside sobriety test.

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) applauded the announcement, saying it was positive first step in helping to improve safety.

“For the last 20 years it has been an industry standard for companies to take proactive steps to ensure drivers are fit for duty and not operating under the influence of alcohol or other drugs,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski.

Laskowski says the Ontario Road Safety Annual Report shows commercial truck drivers are already less likely than the average road user to be operating a vehicle under the influence.

The regulations will be imposed on drivers in the province in addition to possible federal penalties for those caught driving impaired under the Criminal Code.

The OTA is calling on the government to do even more to ensure safe roadways, asking for comprehensive drug testing programs for workers in safety sensitive positions.

“If we are going to have zero-tolerance policies for roadside enforcement of carriers, we need to ensure they have the necessary tools to enforce those policies in their workplaces,” says Laskowski.

Under the new regulations all drivers will also face increased fines for driving while under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol range of 80 milligrams (.08) of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, or 50 (.05) milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, also known as the “warn” range.

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