21 is New Cut-off Age for Booze and Driving
As of August 1, drivers aged 21 years and under will be required to maintain a zero blood alcohol level while behind the wheel. The no-booze rule applies even if the driver has a full licence.
The change is part of a package of driver reforms first introduced in 2008 by the Dalton McGuinty government.
"Perhaps the most precious thing that we have in our society is our children, and that includes our older children," Dalton McGuinty said when the changes were first announced.
"I think we owe it to our kids to take the kinds of measures, take the steps, that ensure that they will grow up safe."
Currently, Ontario drivers with a G1 or G2 beginner's licence must maintain a zero blood alcohol level. However, motorists with a G licence won't get into trouble unless they're found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the warning rage, 0.5 to 0.8, or higher.
The new rule demands that all drivers up to the age of 21 years, 364 days, 11 hours and 59 minutes maintain a zero BAC while motoring.
According to the MADD website, new stiffer sanctions for drivers who break these and other rules will take effect the same day.
Novice and young drivers caught drinking and driving get an immediate 24-hour roadside licence suspension, and could face a fine of $60-$500, according to MADD. For a third conviction on this and other driving violations, a new driver would be stripped of a novice licence and forced to begin the process anew.
The anti-impaired driving groups say 15- to 25-year-olds are disproportionately involved in alcohol-related crash deaths.
"Zero BAC requirements have been shown, both internationally and in Canada... to reduce the rates of alcohol-related crashes," the website says.
In 2005, motor vehicle collisions were the leading cause of hospital admissions among youth aged 15 to 24.
Summary of New Drinking and Driving Measures:
All drivers 21 years of age and younger must have a zero blood alcohol level when they get behind the wheel or face:
An immediate 24-hour licence suspension
30-day licence suspension
Up to $500 in fines
Drivers in the Graduated Licensing System will face tougher penalties if they violate the conditions of their licence or if they are convicted of any Highway Traffic Act offences that carry four or more demerit points. Penalties include:
30-day licence suspension for the first instance
90-day licence suspension for a second instance
Further instances can lead to a cancellation of the licence and other penalties
Also, effective August 3, eligible drivers convicted of an impaired driving offence for the first time, will be able to reduce their licence suspension if they agree to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, at their own cost. This will help impaired drivers change their behaviour to prevent them from becoming repeat offenders.
[Sources - Canoe.ca and Ontario.ca]
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