Fines and licence suspensions for drug-impaired drivers in Ontario, Canada

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Fines and licence suspensions for drug-impaired drivers in Ontario, Canada

The Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act includes how officers can manage drug-impaired drivers. Ontario police will now be able to suspend licences and hand out fines for drug-impaired drivers. Additional penalties can include jail time with convictions of up to 5 years.

Ontario drivers driving under the influence of cannabis will be faced with a fine of $180 and a licence suspension. On the first occurrence the drug-impaired individual will face a 3-day licence suspension. On the second occurrence a 7-day licence suspension and the third incident, including any subsequent incidences, will lead to a 30-day licence suspension. Officers will administer a roadside sobriety test to validate if the driver is under the influence.

The roadside screening process is similar for those that have been caught drinking and driving. The roadside screening test will include coordination: walking a straight line, nose touches, walk-and-turn tests and standing on one leg while counting down 30 seconds. Physical tests will include: eye inspections and heart-rate checks.

The DrugWipe was created for law enforcement and employers to aid in roadside and on-site detection of drugs. Now the DrugWipe will assist officers with the initial roadside screening process to detect several common drugs within 3-8 minutes. This non-invasive drug screener provides preliminary results for: cannabis, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines/methamphetamines/ecstasy, methadone, ketamine and benzodiazepines.

Drivers that fail the initial roadside screening test will be taken to the police station for further testing with a drug recognition expert, testing will include check of the driver’s bodily fluids to obtain evidential results. Depending on the test results the driver may be faced with a 90-day licence suspension and a 7-day vehicle impound.

Drivers with two or more licence suspensions within a 10-year span will be required to install an ignition interlock, where a mandatory breath test will be required in order for the driver to start the vehicle. The breath test will detect alcohol and/or drug use. Safeguards have been put in place to ensure ignition interlocks are tamper-proof and that the person in question is the one providing the breath tests. The mandatory installation of an ignition interlock will also require the driver to attend mandatory education or treatment programs.

These penalties have been put in place to match Ontario’s current drinking and driving penalties.