It’s the holiday season! Brian Goldfinger and everyone here at Goldfinger Injury Lawyers wishes you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and safe holiday and new year.
Today (December 18, 2018) new penalties for impaired driving were introduced. The penalties are stiff, and have significant implication in both criminal and personal injury cases. With today’s installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog; Brian Goldfinger will explain what the penalties and what the changes are to the law. These changes have an impact on everyone (motorists, pedestrians and cyclists) across Ontario; so take note.
One of the most significant changes to the laws is when it comes to testing and road side stops. Effective immediately, police officers can require any lawfully-stopped driver to provide a preliminary breath sample WITHOUT reasonable suspicion that the driver has any alcohol in their body. That means that a police officer can just ask that you “blow” into the breathalyzer for no reason at all.
If you will recall the RIDE checks, police officers would dip their heads in to your car, getting close to your face so that they can try to smell any alcohol on your breath; or look for any open or empty containers of alcohol. If they smelled booze, or saw a liquor bottle, that equated to reasonable suspicion and would justify that you blow a sample. Now with the changes in the law, the police don’t need to smell liquor on your breath or see a bottle. The police don’t need any reasonable suspicion to require a sample. Refusing to blow a sample can be just as bad as blowing a positive sample.
In the past, herkie jerkie driving, or swerving your vehicle equated to reasonable suspicion requiring a sample.
This will make it easier to catch impaired drivers and act as a significant deterred. Some lawyers also argue that it’s a violation of one’s rights. We will see what the Courts have to say about any violation of Charter Rights.
Now on to the penalties. The big message with these changes is that impaired driving, in all its forms, is illegal, and will result in very stiff penalties which are as follows:
Alcohol Related Offences
First Offence + Blood Alcohol Content of 80-119mg will result in a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 (that’s just the minimum)
First Offence + Blood Alcohol Content of 120-159mg will result in a mandatory minimum fine of $1,500
First Offence + Blood Alcohol Content of 160 or more will result in a mandatory minimum fine of $2,000
First Offence + Refusal to Blow or be tested will result in a mandatory minimum fine of $2,000
Second Offence will result in a mandatory 30 days in jail
Third Offence and subsequent offences thereafter will result in a mandatory 120 days in jail
Drug Related Offences
2 nanograms but less than 5 nanograms of THC (weed) per milliliter of blood will result in a maximum $1,000 fine
This penalty makes it sound like it’s better to have a bit of pot in your system than alcohol. The penalty at this lower end doesn’t sound as stiff as the penalty of alcohol. But, it gets harsher….
First Offence for 5 ng or more of THC per ml of blood or any detectable level of LSD, ketamine, PCP, cocaine, meth, psilocin will result in a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000
Second Offence will result in a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000
Third and subsequent offences will result in a mandatory minimum of 120 days in jail
50 mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood + 2.5 ng of THC per 1ml of blood (drinking and smoking pot)
First Offence will result in a mandatory $1,000 fine
Second Offence will result in a mandatory 30 days in jail
Third Offence will result in a mandatory 120 days in jail
New Maximum Penalties for impaired driving (alcohol or drugs) causing no bodily harm (no personal injury) or death
Indictable Offence is a maximum of 10 years in jail
New Maximum Penalties for impaired driving (alcohol or drugs) causing bodily harm (causing a personal injury)
Summary Conviction applicable for less serious personal injuries is a maximum of 2 years less a day in jail
Indictable Offence is a maximum of 14 years in jail
Impaired driving (alcohol or drugs) causing death maximum penalty is a life sentence
These new penalties are harsh, and rightfully so. They are intended to act as a deterred to impaired driving. They send a strong message to the public that if you are going to drink or smoke cannabis, you are not allowed to drive. If you drive while under the influence, you are making a terrible decision which has severe, life changing consequences. More important than the penalties, the police have increased powers to search you for whatever they want. If they want you to blow, or to be tested for drugs, they can ask and you must comply or pay the price. This degree of power imparted to the police under the new legislation comes with great responsibility to use these powers properly and not to abuse those powers entrusted to them.
These changes were introduced right around the holidays. It’s around this time where Goldfinger Injury Lawyers sees a spike in calls involving drunk driving and drugged driving case which cause injury or death. The timely changes have attracted a lot of media attention. Everyone here at Goldfinger Injury Lawyers hopes that the message that drinking and driving, and bring on drugs and driving is not tolerated and will result in severe consequences to those found guilty. Just this past weekend, Toronto Police charged 23 motorists with impaired driving. That’s 23 separate drivers over the span on one weekend in Toronto alone. Those figures make you shake your head in disgust. Driving is a privilege. It’s not a right. Take that privilege seriously and use it responsibly. The consequences for impaired driving run deep and impact more than just the at fault driver and any accident victims. Everyone at Goldfinger Injury Lawyers is curious to see what impact, if any, these new laws will have on impaired driving statistics in Ontario. We hope it will curb the figures down to zero.