Drinking and Driving Laws Implemented in Ontario on May 1, 2009 (Bill 203)

Many Provinces have dealt with motorists  reading  between .05 and .08 by impounding their vehicles and taking away their drivers’ licences for 12 hours or more.  In 2008, Ontario Regulations (287/08,405/08 & 407/08) amending the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) were passed and those laws came into force effective May 1, 2009. These laws are specifically designed to deal with motorists on Ontario highways, who consume alcohol and then drive a motor vehicle.

Effective May 1, 2009 any motorist in Ontario who is stopped by a police officer and provides a sample of breath  which registers a blood alcohol content anywhere between 0.05 and 0.08 will automatically have their driver’s licence suspended for a period of three (3) days. If the same driver is pulled over again, for a second time (within five (5) years of the first administrative suspension of their driver’s licence) and their blood alcohol content again registers anywhere between 0.05 and 0.08, the driver’s driving licence will be suspended for seven (7) days and that driver must then enroll and complete a remedial alcohol education program. If the same driver is pulled over a third time or more (within five (5) years of the last administrative suspension of their driver’s licence) and their blood alcohol content registers anywhere between 0.05 and 0.08, their driver’s licence will be suspended for thirty (30) days and they must then enroll and complete a remedial alcohol education program and will have a “ignition interlock” condition placed on their driver’s licence for a full six (6) months. There will be no mechanism to allow the driver to appeal the police officer’s decision to suspend the driver’s licence and there will be a record of the suspension on the driver’s driving record with the Ministry of Transportation for a period of five (5) years. If the driver is charged under the Criminal Code of Canada and subsequently convicted of impaired driving, the conviction remains on the driver’s record with the Ministry of Transportation for a minimum period of ten (10) years.

In addition to these suspensions noted above, each driver convicted of a second or third offence will have to undergo a Remedial Alcohol Education Program entitled Back on Track at a cost of $606.90.

Any driver convicted of a third offence will have to undergo the “Back on Track” Education Program and will
also have an install Ignition Interlock condition on their driver’s licence for six months at a cost of $750 for 6 months. The out of pocket expenses  incurred for the Education Program and Ignition Interlock will pale in comparison to the increase in Auto Insurance premiums for at least 5 to 10 years.

Bill 126 and Novice Drivers

On April 23, 2009 Bill 126 received Royal Assent and became law. This Bill is expected to come into force in the spring or summer of 2010. This Bill does not allow Novice or Young Driver’s (21 years and younger) to have any alcohol whatsoever in their system while operating a motor vehicle. 

Relevant Highlights of Bill 126 and the impact on the Highway Traffice Act (HTA):

Bill 126 increases many of the financial fines under the H.T.A (sections 106,130,144 & 146 and 200):

Seatbelts,  H.T.A. section 106,  fine $60 - $500  has increases to $200 to $1,000

Careless Driving,  H.T.A. section 130 fine of $200 - $1,000 increases to $400 - $2,000

Failure to Stop at Red Light/Red Light Camera - H.T.A. sections 144 and 146  fines of $150 - $500 increases to $200 - $1,000.00

Duty of person in charge of vehicle in case of accident (remain or immediately return to scene of accident, render all possible assistance and provide particulars upon request) -HTA 200(2), fine of $200 - $1,000 increases to $400 - $2,000

Young Drivers and Novice Drivers must drive without any alcohol in their system. If they fail to do so, they will be looking at a fine of anywhere between $60.00 and $500.00 if convicted of violating this new section of HTA 44.1. A young driver is defined as a driver younger than 22 years of age. If a young driver is pulled over and it is discovered that the driver has alcohol in their system, they will be charged and in addition to the fine reflected above, upon conviction, their driver’s licence will be suspended for  30 days. Novice driver’s, upon conviction will be fined and could have their licence reclassified or suspended.

See Ontario Regulations 287/08, 405/08 and 407/08 which all came into effect on May 1, 2009.

Ontario is now boasting that it has the safest highways in North America and that the fatality rates on Ontario Highways are the lowest since 1931.

Three most common devices used by police officers to catch speeders are:

RADAR (Radio Detection And Ranging)

Radar works by transmitting radio waves at certain frequencies which reflect off objects (such as your vehicle) and are then picked up by the radar. As the waves bounce off your moving car, a frequency shift occurs. This frequency shift is measurable and thereby, the radar unit converts the shift into kilometers per hour to determine your moving speed. There are two basic types of radar- stationary and moving. The stationary radar must be used from a fixed site, such as a parked patrol car. The moving radar, on the other hand can measure the speed of approaching vehicles while in motion, such as during an officer's driving patrol. Most radar have a relatively wide beam that can easily cover several lanes of traffic at a relatively short range. This is where the problem comes in. The radar may track a far-away large target instead of a closer small target without making a distinction which target it is tracking. The traffic radar cannot simply distinguish between targets within range and cannot identify for the police officer which target it's really reading. If there is more than one vehicle in range, it is up to the police officer to "guess" which target is the speeding one. It could be your speed, the car next to you, the overpass or sign in front of you. Who knows?

LASER (Light Amplification by Simulated Emission of Radiation)

Laser speed guns work by transmitting short bursts of invisible light, which bounce off a target vehicle and return to the laser gun. It then times the outgoing and return trips of the light bursts, thereby calculating the target's speed. By timing the outgoing and return trips of the light bursts, it can compute the target's speed. The laser is much more accurate as it possesses a fairly narrow beam which provides nearly foolproof target identification. Laser guns must be used from stationary position and are most effective at short range. The speed measurement is more accurate because it is not prone to radio interference or jamming, like with the radar.

PACING does not involve a police officer using any speed measuring device. It works by using a certified calibrated speedometer to match the speed of the violator's vehicle. To receive a speeding ticket as a result of pacing means that you weren't checking your mirrors frequently. Once an officer suspects you of speeding, he simply moves his car near yours, matches your speed, follows you a bit at the same distance and the checks his speedometer. Pacing is very accurate. In fact, of all the speed measuring devices, this once is the most difficult one to contend against.