New impaired driving law introduces mandatory breath samples, steeper penalties

GOOD RESULTS- Prince Edward OPP are encouraged that nearly 60 RIDE program checks were undertaken locally over a two week span during the holidays and no motorists were found to be impaired. (Adam Bramburger/Gazette staff)

As of Tuesday, Ontario’s police were legally permitted to ask lawfully stopped drivers to provide a roadside breath sample whether they were suspected of impaired driving or not.

It is mandatory for drivers to comply with the request or they could be charged with failing to provide a sample.

The change came into effect as part of legislation passed under Bill C-46, which received royal asset June 21 after passing through the House of Commons and the Senate. The bill, which was brought into effect as Canada legalized marijuana introduced Criminal Code offences for drug-impaired driving. It also sought to modernize the Criminal Code with more stringent screening and penalties for all forms of impaired driving .

Gary Couture, the interim commissioner of the OPP, says the provincial police force fully supports the legislation and any other legislation that enhances its ability to reduce the number of preventable deaths due to impaired driving.

“This new mandatory alcohol screening serves as an important deterrent to drivers who are impaired by alcohol, including those who believe they can avoid detection by police,”  Couture said in a release. “So far this year, alcohol and/or drugs have been a factor in the deaths of 41 people on OPP-patrolled roads. Every person who uses our roads has the right to be safe.”

From January to mid-November this year, the OP has laid over 7,300 impaired driving charges — and that was before the holiday season and Festive RIDE campaigns, like the one across the Quinte Region.

New mandatory minimum fines for alcohol-impaired driving that doesn’t cause bodily harm or death are as follows…

– First offence, blood/alcohol content of 80-119 mg, $1,000.

– First offence, blood/alcohol content of 120-159 mg, $1,500.

– First offence, blood/alcohol content of 160 mg or more, $2,000

– First offence of refusal to be tested, $2,000. n Second offence, mandatory minimum 30-days imprisonment.

– Third and subsequent offences, mandatory minimum 120 days imprisonment.