Province says it is strengthening impaired driving rules in light of cannabis legislation

by Morinville News Staff

New laws are coming into force to deter impaired driving, reduce collisions and save lives.

Last fall, the province passed An Act to Reduce Cannabis and Alcohol-Impaired Driving. As part of this bill, new impaired driving laws will come into effect on Apr. 9, 2018.

“The loss and suffering that result from impaired driving are unacceptable and entirely preventable,” said Minister of Transportation Brian Mason in a media release Tuesday. “As the country prepares for legalization of cannabis, we’ve strengthened our provincial impaired driving sanctions to make our roads safer and continue to deter impaired driving—whatever the source of impairment may be.”

The new rules coming into effect Apr. 9 are as follows:

All criminally impaired drivers (drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or over, drivers impaired by drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, and drivers who fail or refuse to comply with a demand for a breath or blood sample) will receive a 90-day licence suspension followed by mandatory participation in a one-year ignition interlock program. Should the driver choose not to participate in ignition interlock, the licence suspension will remain in place during this one-year term.

In addition to the provincial sanctions, drivers will continue to be subject to criminal charges and all the associated penalties imposed by the courts.

There will be zero tolerance for Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program drivers for cannabis and illegal drugs in the bloodstream, in addition to alcohol. GDL drivers found with any amount of alcohol, cannabis, illegal drugs or their combination will find the driver subject to a 30-day licence suspension, seven-day vehicle seizure and a lengthened term in the GDL program. (GDL drivers who meet the requirements for criminal-level impaired driving will be subject to the sanctions and penalties mentioned above.)

This legislation also lays the groundwork for the province to enforce upcoming changes to federal impaired driving charges in the Criminal Code of Canada—specifically, proposed blood drug concentration limits for cannabis and cannabis/alcohol combination, similar to the legal limits that already exist for alcohol.

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