Ontario is set to legalize marijuana in the summer of next year, but they are starting their zero tolerance for drivers under the influence of marijuana now.
Ontario is capitalizing on the impending legalization of marijuana by increasing penalties for drinking and driving.
Further, penalties for driving while impaired by marijuana will be modeled after said drunk driving laws.
Road safety will be a priority once recreational weed is allowed after July 1, 2018.
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced, “it’s necessary to introduce harsher consequences for those who choose to drive while impaired.”
He focuses his message on young, novice, and commercial drivers. “This means drivers that are at or under the age of 21, or drivers who carry a G1, G2, M1, or M2 licence, or drivers of commercial vehicles must not get behind the wheel of a vehicle if they have any presence of drugs or alcohol in their system – as detected by a federally approved screening device.”
— Marie-France Lalonde (@mflalonde) September 18, 2017
“In addition, we are proposing to increase existing penalties such as monetary fines and license suspensions for all drivers who are impaired by drugs or alcohol.”
“And we intend to increase penalties for any driver who fails or refuses a drug or alcohol test.” All increased charges are in addition to any federal charges already in place.
He concludes saying, “Let me be clear. Driving while impaired is not acceptable, and will not be tolerated.”
Under the new rule, any commercial truck driver caught driving impaired will face a three day suspension and a fine of up to $450.
For a first offense, young passenger vehicle drivers will face a 3-day driving suspension and a $250 fine.
For a second offense, young passenger vehicle drivers will be subject to a week-long suspension, and a $350 fine.
All offenses after the second will be punishable by a 30-day driving suspension and fined up to $450.
All other drivers found to be within the blood-alcohol concentrate range of between .05 and .08 will face suspensions and fines, according to The Star.
Those with blood-alcohol concentrate levels above .08 face a 90-day suspension and $550 fines.
Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada’s Andrew Murie noted that “by far cannabis is the leading drug when it comes to road fatalities when drugs are present.”
Murie also noted that he is hopeful for oral-fluid road tests that would help discourage driving under the influence of alcohol.
Such THC saliva tests have yet to be approved by the federal government, and it is unclear the reliability of the test. In contrast, the U.S. uses blood tests to detect THC in drivers.
Police become responsible
With any increase in regulation, someone has to be responsible for enforcement and maintenance; in this case, it has been estimated that the Ontario Provincial Police will need up to 500 specially trained officers to enforce the law.
Currently, there are only 83 trained to recognize drug-impaired driving.
Only time will tell of the effectiveness of the new zero tolerance stance for drivers under the influence of marijuana and alcohol.
To read more about truck driving and drugs in the U.S., click here.