Ontario will require convicted drunk drivers to install an ignition interlock, or “breathalyzer”, in their vehicle if they want to get back on the road.
Julia Munro, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Transportation announced the measure today on behalf of Transportation Minister Brad Clark.
“One impaired driver on our roads is one too many. Ontario has some of the toughest anti-drinking and driving initiatives in North America but there is more work to be done,” said Munro. “Ignition interlocks will help prevent drinking and driving and make our roads safer.”
Before starting their vehicle, a driver must blow into a device which is connected to the engine’s ignition system. The vehicle will not start if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is above a pre-set limit.
As of December 23, 2001, individuals who commit a drinking and driving offence under the Criminal Code of Canada and are convicted will be subject to the ignition interlock program.
After serving the current provincial sanctions, including licence suspensions and mandatory remedial programs, those who are eligible to have their driver’s licence reinstated will have an ignition interlock condition placed on their Ontario driver’s licence for at least one year.
The device must be installed in any vehicle the offender drives while the condition is on their licence. The first interlocks will likely be installed in just over a year.
In 1999, there were about 17,000 drinking and driving convictions in Ontario–almost 80% were first-time offenders. Private Member’s Bill 131, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Ignition Interlock Device), 2000, was introduced by Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop and received Royal Assent last December.
“The injuries and fatalities caused by drinking drivers result in untold pain and suffering for Ontario families, all of which is preventable,” said Dunlop. “We want to help ensure that everyone gets home safely.”
Recent data shows Ontario has the safest roads in Canada, and the second safest roads in North America.
“I am committed to ensuring that we maintain our excellent road safety record,” Clark said. “It is never the season to drink and drive. During the holidays, as always, we all have a responsibility to drive safe and sober.”
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