Lifetime driving bans, mandatory in-car breathalyzers coming under new impaired driving laws in Ontario

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Published May 15, 2024 at 11:03 am

tougher impaired driving charges ontario mississauga brampton

Getting behind the wheel while under the influence could come with an automatic lifetime driving ban as Ontario is looking to toughen up impaired driving laws.

“If you think there are no consequences for drinking and driving, my advice would be, start making plans for life without your car.”

That was the message from Brampton South MPP and Ontario Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria on Wednesday, who announced plans to introduce tougher impaired driving penalties to the legislature later this week.

The new rules include a mandatory ignition interlock device and remedial education for anyone convicted of a first-time impaired driving offence, and treatment for following alcohol and drug-related offences.

Anyone convicted of impaired driving causing death – like in the crash that killed Karolina Ciasullo and her three daughters in Brampton – would get an automatic lifetime licence suspension.

A teacher at Isaac Jogues Catholic Elementary School in Brampton, the death of Ciasullo and her daughters set off a wave of grief in the community and calls for stricter dangerous driving penalties.

“Everyone deserves to return home to their loved ones safely at the end of the day,” Sarkaria said. “Too many families in Ontario have had their lives torn apart by the careless and shameful actions of impaired drivers.”

Karolina Ciasullo daughters imparied driving crash Brampton Caledon

Karolina Ciasullo and her daughters 6-year-old Klara, 3-year-old Lilianna and 1-year-old Mila were killed in a crash in June, 2018.

Ignition interlocks are an in-car alcohol breath screening device that stops the vehicle’s engine from starting if it detects alcohol in the driver’s system. The minister said the province is also exploring interlocking technology that could screen for drugs.

The province is also looking to increase first-offence roadside licence suspensions from three days to and seven days, and move second-time suspensions from seven days to 14 days.

Sarkaria said the province has seen an increase in the number of charges and incidents of impaired driving in recent years, with one in five drivers testing positive for drugs, alcohol, or both in a 2022 roadside survey. The percentage of drivers killed while under the influence of cannabis has also more than doubled between 2012 and 2020, according to the province.

One in three roadway fatalities involves impaired driving, the province says.

The impaired driving announcement is the second in as many days for Sarkaria and follows the introduction of penalties for auto theft that would lead to a lifetime driver’s licence suspension for repeat offenders. Sarkaria also called on the federal government to toughen the Criminal Code with more penalties for impaired drivers, and more funding for roadside cannabis impairment detection.

The proposed legislation would mean anyone convicted of motor vehicle theft under the Criminal Code would face a 10-year licence suspension for a first offence jumping up to 15 years for a second offence and a lifetime ban for a third offence.

Police are now also conducting mandatory breathalyzer alcohol screening during every traffic stop on local GTA highways, including the QEW and Highways 403 and 401.

Impaired driving offences in Ontario currently can lead to immediate licence suspensions, fines, vehicle impoundment, and enrollment in education or treatment programs.

Police say anyone who suspects a driver of operating while impaired by drugs or alcohol is encouraged to call 911 and report it when safe to do so.

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