Impaired driving laws are get the biggest overhaul in years, and it’s not just in Toronto, but across the country. The biggest catalyst seems to be the proposed legalization of marijuana in 2018.
As a result of the legalization of marihuana Provincial lawmakers are reexamine existing impaired driving regulations. They are trying to figure out how to best handle drug-impaired driving. As well, it is giving cause to take a look at other aspects of impaired driving laws that seem unconstitutional or don’t fit with modern times.
The decriminalization of impaired driving
A good example of DUI laws being reviewed for constitutional reasons is happening right now in Alberta. For a very long time DUI lawyers have been calling for the decriminalization of impaired driving. It is finally being seriously considered.
Alberta, as reported by CBC, is planning to give officers more discretion in deciding whether to give criminal charges during roadside stops. Until now, Alberta had similar rules to Toronto DUI laws. Drivers who blew over the legal limit faced an immediate suspension for three months. They would also face criminal charges.
The first round of changes to impaired driving laws were passed in November. The immediate 3-month suspension remains in place, but the province is able to decide whether they press criminal charges.
As criminal defence lawyers continue to push for decriminalization Alberta Transportation promises more changes are to come in 2018. Their argument is that the current laws violate the rights of defendants – because it doesn’t give them the presumption of innocence.
To the surprise of some, MADD Canada is on the side of decriminalization. Their aim is to allow police more discretion at roadside stops. Nearly 40% of trial time in Alberta is taken up by impaired driving constitutions. The decriminalization of impaired driving would reduce the time and resources, allowing them to be focused on more serious cases of DUIs.
Will decriminalization of DUIs happen in Ontario?
Ontario is notoriously strict on impaired driving, so it seems unlikely for the province to be as open to decriminalization. However, if Alberta follows through it could create a precedent for defence lawyers in Ontario.
The benefit of the presumption of innocence is a federal, not provincial, guarantee. So the claim that current impaired driving laws are in a violation of rights can be claimed in Ontario as well.
How will impaired driving laws change in Toronto?
In light of the proposed legalization of marijuana, there are a slew of new drug laws in Toronto being proposed. These include changes to existing impaired driving penalties, as well as new laws for drug-impaired driving.
The current proposal for impaired driving laws offer stronger penalties. For one, the minimum fines will increase. As well, the maximum sentences will increase. Strict consequences for DUIs and drug-impaired driving are intended to prevent people from driving. They also make the role of DUI attorneys more important to defendants.
Police will also be allowed to demand roadside breath tests from any vehicle they stop. They will not, however, be given any new powers to pull over vehicles. In addition to breath tests, police can do a roadside saliva test to check for drugs. They can also demand blood samples.
New laws for drugged drivers are also being put into place. Most laws are similar to those for drunk driving, however, there are some changes. For example, young drivers, novice drivers, and commercial drivers will all have zero tolerance for drug-impaired driving.
The legal limits for THC (the psychoactive chemical in cannabis) have been proposed as well:
- Punishable by fine: Driving with more than 2 nanograms of THC per 1 ml of blood.
- Potential jail time: Driving with more than 5 nanograms of THC per 1 ml of blood.
For more detailed explanation of drug impaired driving and What a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) is the article Drug Impaired Driving covers these issues.
Hire an experienced impaired driving lawyer who is on the pulse of law changes
An experienced DUI lawyer saves you money long-term and gives you the best chance at a not guilty verdict. The similarities between drugged driving and drunk driving laws, means experience as a DUI attorney has the most relevant experience. For an impaired driving lawyer with a track record of success, contact William Jaksa today.