Suspended, impaired drivers face tougher penalties

Starting Dec. 1, new measures are in place to help keep suspended and impaired drivers off Ontario’s roads.

The change in law will also provide added enforcement against people who have had their driver’s licences suspended for consistently not paying family support.

Individuals can have their vehicles impounded for seven days on the spot if they are caught:

– driving with a blood alcohol concentration over .08 (beyond the legal limit) or for failing or refusing to provide a breath sample;

– driving while under certain Highway Traffic Act licence suspensions, including chronic non-payment of family support; and

– driving without an ignition interlock device when one is required.

The seven-day vehicle impoundment program changes are part of the Road Safety Act, and will make Ontario’s roads safer.

Minister of Transportation Kathleen Wynne said of the changes, “Ontario’s roads are among the safest in North America and these new measures will help us make them even safer. We’ve given police the ability to impound the vehicle of any driver who is caught ignoring these laws.”

Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur said of those not paying child support, “Good parents do the right thing and pay to support their children. If parents are continually defaulting on their payments and have had their licence suspended as a result, they will now face immediate impoundment of their vehicle if caught driving. This sends a strong message to those who both fail to meet their family support obligations and do not obey the law.”

OPP Deputy Commissioner responsible for Traffic Safety, Larry Beechey added, “The OPP is committed to reducing the tragic loss of life on Ontario’s roads and this new provision will be a useful tool to ensure that we do all we can to meet that goal.”

Approximately 2.3 per cent of all fatal and injury crashes in Ontario involve drivers with suspended or revoked licences.

It is estimated that up to three-quarters of all suspended drivers continue to drive.

Annually, Ontario issues approximately 17,000 licence suspensions related to driving with a blood alcohol concentration over .08 or for failing or refusing to provide a breath sample.

Vehicles can already be taken off the road for a minimum of 45 days if individuals are caught driving while under suspension for a conviction under the Criminal Code.