June 2007

Drinking, racing penalties tightened

The Ontario government has passed a new law, toughening penalties for street racing and for repeat drinking drivers in the “warning range” of 0.05 to 0.08 blood-alcohol concentration. Those caught street racing can now have their licences suspended and cars impounded on the spot for seven days and face fines of up to $10,000. Each year, about 16,000 people are charged with drinking and driving in Ontario, notes a Ministry of Transportation release announcing the changes. About one-quarter of the province’s annual road deaths are alcohol-related. Since 1999, the Greater Toronto Area has witnessed an estimated 35 street-racing related deaths, the release continues.

Highlights of legislation

Creates escalating sanctions for repeat drinking drivers measuring 0.05 to 0.08: first instance, driver suspended for at least three days; second instance, driver suspended for seven days and must undergo remedial measures; third instance, driver suspended for 30 days, must undergo remedial measures and have ignition interlock for six months. - Provides incentives to convicted offenders to install ignition interlock devices, which immobilize a car if the driver has been drinking. - Allows for a vehicle to be forfeited for people who continue to drink and drive. - Police can issue an immediate roadside seven-day licence suspension and seven-day vehicle impoundment for people caught street racing, participating in a driving contest or stunt driving - The maximum fine upon conviction for street racing rises to $10,000 from $1,000, making it the highest penalty in Canada. The minimum fine increases to $2,000 from $200. - The new legislation also bans driving a motor vehicle on a highway with a connected nitrous oxide system. Some street racers use nitrous oxide to enhance the acceleration capabilities of their vehicle. “The early ignition interlock program will help prevent repeat drinking and driving incidences because it actively prevents offences from being committed, and repeat offenders who continue to drink and drive, without regard for the law, may have their cars forfeited, by court order, under new civil forfeiture laws,” said Attorney General Michael Bryant in the release.

Updated June 4, 2007