The provincial government has implemented new rules for drivers.
Those changes started on Aug. 1 and now, all drivers age 21 and younger must have a zero blood alcohol level when they get behind the wheel or they will face an immediate 24-hour licence suspension, a 30-day licence suspension, and up to $500 in fines;
Drivers in the graduated licensing system will face tougher penalties if they violate the conditions of their licence or if they are convicted of any Highway Traffic Act offences that carry four or more demerit points.
The penalties include:
– a 30-day licence suspension for the first instance;
– a 90-day licence suspension for a second instance; and
– further instances can lead to a cancellation of the licence and other penalties.
Wellington County media relations officer Mark Cloes said in an interview just days after then announcement that the local OPP had not received formal notification of the changes, but said the OPP will enforce all the rules of the road.
Another change, effective Aug. 3, means eligible drivers convicted of an impaired driving offence for the first time, will be able to reduce their licence suspension – if they agree to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, at their own cost.
The government is hoping that will help impaired drivers change their behaviour to prevent them from becoming repeat offenders.
The changes are part of the Road Safety Act 2009 and 2007’s Safer Roads for a Safer Ontario Act and are designed to help keep drivers safe on Ontario roads.
Previous rules allowed drivers to have about one drink; those stopped were subject to a warning.
Ontario has the lowest impaired driving rate in Canada, Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne said.
"When a quarter of all fatal collisions in Ontario involve a drinking driver, we know that there is more that we can do. That combination of being young and being a new driver can be particularly dangerous."
Wynne added, "We put the Road Safety Act in place to protect young drivers and everyone who shares the road with them. Our novice drivers deserve our help to prepare them for a lifetime of safe driving."
Attorney General Chris Bentley added, "Ignition interlock devices will make Ontario’s roads safer by encouraging drivers who have offended to adopt more responsible behaviour and by reducing the number of impaired drivers on the road."
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada national president Margaret Miller said, "Extending the zero [blood to alcohol ratio] requirement gives young drivers the chance to gain more driving experience without taking unnecessary risks. This will reduce impaired driving deaths and injuries among young drivers and promotes safe and responsible driving habits."
The peak ages of drinking and driving collisions are 19, 20, and 21.
In Ontario, 235 drivers age 21 and under were killed in drinking and driving collisions in the latest 10-year period for which statistics are available.
Crashes involving drivers suspended for a drinking and driving conviction are 3.4 times more likely to be fatal.