Thursday, June 20, 2024
OPP and MTO work together at the new inspection station in Shuniah. Photo: OPP Northwest
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Lifetime suspension proposed for impaired causing death

Best case scenario” will be routine tests, more enforcement TTSAO says

The Ontario government plans to introduce legislation that, if passed, would impose stiffer penalties for those who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs – including a lifetime licence suspension for those convicted of impaired driving causing death.

“Enforcement will be the key,” say Philip Fletcher, president of the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO). “Will this new law apply to commercial drivers to the same extent it will apply to personal auto drivers? That has not been made clear yet.”

Fletcher and other Trucking industry members have consistently called for increased enforcement of all forms at trucking inspection stations and on the highways.

“The best-case scenario would be that tests for impairment would become a standard part of every inspection, while the number of inspections is also increased.”

TTSAO president Philip Fletcher. Photo: TTSAO

A 2022 roadside survey found that one in five drivers tested positive for drugs, alcohol, or both. In Ontario, one in three roadway fatalities involves impaired driving.

Fletcher, who attends regular Fleet Safety Meetings as part of his work at TTSAO, notes that the length of time that cannabis stays in a user’s system may become an issue in future as part of the “Fitness for Duty” diligence which trucking companies apply.

Nationally, impaired driving rates saw significant changes following the legalization of cannabis in 2018. Statistics Canada noted a sharp rise in drug-impaired driving incidents, which increased by 43 per cent from 2018 to 2019. The police-reported impaired driving rate increased by 19 per cent in 2019 from 2018, ending a downward trend that began in 2011.

The percentage of drivers killed while under the influence of cannabis more than doubled between 2012 and 2020.

Ontario’s proposed new legislation will require anyone convicted of impaired driving to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle and undergo mandatory remedial education and treatment for first and second-time alcohol and drug-related offences respectively.

The province is proposing to increase the first and second-time roadside licence suspensions from three and seven days to seven and 14 days for drug and alcohol related offences, respectively,

The proposed legislation would also increase immediate roadside licence suspensions for first and second-time alcohol and drug-related offences and clarify police authority to stop vehicles and/or administer sobriety tests for drivers on or off the highway.

In response to increasing instances of cannabis-impaired driving, the Ontario says it will work to provide additional tools and training to help police officers detect drug-impaired driving and launch a province-wide campaign to highlight the dangers of drug-impaired driving, with a focus on cannabis and young drivers.