Ontario drivers high on drugs to face harsh penalties starting October 2

The new penalties are a result of legislation passed last year called the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act.
The new penalties are a result of legislation passed last year called the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act. (Photo: REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Ontario drivers are warned: as of October 2, if you are found to be under the influence of drugs while operating a vehicle, you will face almost the same harsh penalties that drunk drivers do.

The Ontario government announced yesterday that the new penalties will be in effect as of Sunday and they include:

  • A $180 penalty;
  • An immediate licence suspension of three days for the first occurrence, seven days for the second occurrence and 30 days for the third occurrence;
  • A possible 90-day licence suspension and a seven-day vehicle impoundment following further drug testing;
  • Mandatory education or treatment programs; and
  • The possible installation of an ignition interlocks in vehicles of repeat offenders.

Police officers will use a physical co-ordination test, as well as the Drug Recognition Expert’s evaluation to determine whether licenses should be suspended.

In addition to all of the above penalties, drivers could also face criminal charges that could lead to jail time and more fines.

The new penalties are a result of legislation passed last year called the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act. The act is the government’s attempt to improve the safety of Ontario roads, especially in light of a report from the Office of the Chief Coroner, which reported that 39 per cent of drivers killed on Ontario roads in 2013 were under the influence of drugs or drugs and alcohol.

Toronto police also reported that drug impaired driving offences have more than tripled in the last year and that most of those offences are not related to marijuana but rather prescription drugs.

Accordingly, the new legislation won’t just affect those that use illicit drugs and get behind the wheel of a car but also those that take prescription medication.

The government recommends that drivers inform themselves about side effects of any prescription medication they take before they get behind the wheel.

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