Ontario Continues To Get Tough with Drinking Drivers

TORONTO, Sept. 30, 1998 /CNW/ – Tough new measures aimed at first-time and repeat drinking driving offenders in Ontario go into effect today.

The measures establish mandatory education and treatment programs, increase the licence suspension periods for repeat offenders and lengthen the time that a driving-related Criminal Code conviction stays on a driver’s record.

“These new measures make Ontario the last place people will want to be caught drinking and driving,” said Transportation Minister Tony Clement. “The new measures put Ontario ahead of other provinces on the road safety front. If drinking drivers continue to put the safety of others at risk, they’re going to pay a steeper price for their actions.”

Under the new measures, convicted first-time drinking drivers must successfully complete a mandatory education program that will be managed by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Repeat offenders will undergo a mandatory assessment to determine whether they would benefit from either an education or a treatment program. Offenders must successfully complete a remedial measures program, for which they must foot the costs, to have their driving privileges reinstated.

“We call our program Back on Track because it gives people the opportunity to change their dangerous drinking and driving behaviour and thus potentially avoid future problems,” said Susan Harrison, a regional director for the Centre.

The new measures increase licence suspensions for second-time offenders convicted of a drinking and driving-related Criminal Code offence to three years, up from two. Drivers convicted of a third offence will lose their licence for life. However, they can apply to have their licences reinstated if they maintain a clean record for 10 consecutive years and meet certain conditions, such as having an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. A fourth-time offender will never get a driver’s licence in Ontario again.

Also effective today, drivers convicted of a drinking and driving-related Criminal Code offence since September 30, 1993, will have the offence stay on their record for a minimum of 10 years. In the past, all drinking and driving-related Criminal Code offences stayed on a driver’s record for five years.

“Drinking and driving is a serious criminal offence and, in Ontario, more court resources are devoted to drinking and driving charges than to any other type of offence,” Attorney General Charles Harnick said. “As part of this initiative, the government is appointing 12 new judges, 22 assistant Crown attorneys and approximately 40 support staff to enforce these new tough new measures and get drinking drivers off the roads.”

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