Ontario to introduce zero-tolerance drug impaired driving legislation

Published: September 19, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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The Government of Ontario has announced its plans to introduce new legislation regarding drug impaired driving. In an announcement on Monday, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Transportation Steve Del Duca said the legislation will arrive in the fall and operate on a zero-tolerance policy.

New laws will cover several classes of licenses, and will “increase the consequences and costs for those who drive under the influence of drugs, including cannabis.”

Ontario is building its comprehensive cannabis plan, which was first introduced before the federal government confirms its legalization marijuana by July 2018. Announced on Sept. 8, the plan includes Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) oversight of around 150 standalone marijuana retail stores.

With its new zero tolerance legislation, Ontario will focus on drivers aged 21 and under, G1, G2, M1 and M2 motorcycle riders, all commercial vehicles, and novice drivers. In its announcement, the government explained what its zero-tolerance stance means:

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

The province will raise fines for drivers who fail or refuse a sobriety test. For novice and younger motorists, the punishment will include a monetary fine and a three-day license suspension for a first-time offence. Further occurrences will lead to a penalty of $250, with suspensions and fines rising through more occurrences.