Impaired Driving: It’s Not Just Alcohol Anymore

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Everyone knows not to drink and drive, but according to the CBC, the OPP laid 6,500 charges in 2016 for impaired driving and more than 30 people died in Ontario due to drunk driving accidents. Those numbers were released at the end of November, so they don’t even include the holiday season.
It’s obviously a priority to reduce the number of people who drink and drive, but how to do that is up for debate. One option would be to introduce random roadside breathalyzer tests, but this might violate the Charter unless it could be proven that the measure would work and that current tactics weren’t working. Some also advocate lowering the legal limit to 0.05 percent blood alcohol level, but critics argue that this would punish moderate drinkers with a blood alcohol level that does not constitute impairment.
And as if drunk driving wasn’t serious enough, now a new issue is on the horizon: drug impaired driving. Legislation introduced this fall means that motorists who are driving while high on marijuana will face the same penalties as drunk drivers. This means a minimum fine of $180 and an immediate suspension of their driver’s licence. They could also face criminal charges, which could mean a jail sentence of up to five years.
Other penalties include:
– Licence suspension for three days for a first offence, seven days for a second and 30 days for a third
– Licences can be suspended for 90 days and vehicles impounded for seven days if the motorist is taken to a police station for testing, which can include a urine test.
Drug-impaired driving may become a more serious issue if the federal government legalizes marijuana. Legislation to do just that is expected to be tabled in the spring of 2017.