Anti-drinking-driving law has tough penalties

A new pro­vincial law gives the police more teeth when it comes to them clamp­ing down on drinking drivers.

Neighbouring Perth County OPP has already suspended two drivers over the May 4 week­end under the new regulations.

The law deals with drivers who have a  blood to alcohol level in excess of 0.05mgs per 100ml of blood in their system. Under the old law, that carried a 12 hour driver’s licence sus­pension, but Constable Glen Childerley noted that under the new law the two drivers had their licence suspended automatically for three days. The legislation came into effect on May 1.

The law also carries new and escalating sanctions for drinking drivers who register a warning on alcohol screen­ing devices.

The law received passage in June last year and part of the legislation involved the new sanctions. At the end of April, that bill was passed by the legislature and certain aspects of it were amended, including sections of the blood to alcohol warning range administrative suspen­sions.

The new regulations will do two things:

– replace the current 12-hour warning range for blood to alcohol concentration sus­pen­sions issued by police with recorded escalating sanctions regime that includes longer suspension periods and reme­dial programs for driving with a blood to alcohol ratio in the warn range.

Police can still suspend the licence of a novice driver with blood to alcohol ration of under .05 for 12 hours.

As of May 1, 12-hour lic­ence suspensions issued for  people in the warn range are replaced by escalating suspen­sion periods:

– first occurrence, a three-day suspension;

– second occurrence within a five-year period, a 7-day suspension; and

– third or subsequent oc­currence within a five-year period, a 30-day suspension.

Police are obligated under the Highway Traffic Act to report those suspensions to the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. It will require drivers to complete remedial programs as follows:

– second occurrence, a remedial alcohol education program

– a third or subsequent occurrence, a forced remedial alcohol treatment program and a 6-month ignition interlock condition on the driver’s licence.

A warning range suspension applies to individuals operating a motor vehicle, motorized bicycle, motorized snow vehicle or vessel.

Sergeant Douglas Pflug of the Guelph Police Services reported warning range blood to alcohol content suspensions are effective on the date and at the time that the driver surrenders the driver’s licence to the officer.

MTO will issue a new driver’s licence once the sus­pension ends providing the driver is eligible.

Unlike the old system, driv­ers cannot appear at the police station to reclaim their licence at the end of the suspension period. Only the MTO may reinstate and issue a driver’s licence at the completion of the suspension period.

The suspensions will be­come part of the driver’s record and will be included on a driver’s abstract for three years. The police do not notify the insurance companies of such suspensions; however, those abstracts are available to in­surance companies through their normal course of business during application processes.

The suspension applies to anyone found to be operating a motor vehicle, motorized snow vehicle or vessel in Ontario. MTO will record suspensions issued to everyone charged, creating an Ontario driving record for them where necessary.

Driver’s licenses from other provinces and countries seized by police as a result of a roadside suspension are to be returned to the Ministry of Transportation (Driver Im­prove­ment Office).

That includes international driving permits.

There is no appeal process for the suspensions. To contest the suspension drivers should consult independent legal counsel.

Once their suspension ends, the driver’s status changes from suspended to unlicensed and their privileges are not re-instated until they apply for a new licence.