toronto drinking driving laws

Mandatory alcohol breath tests begin tomorrow for drivers in Canada

Alcohol isn't exactly known for its ability to help people make wise decisions. I mean, three people were arrested in Toronto this weekend alone for driving under the influence after passing out at fast food drive-thrus.

As of tomorrow, those drivers—or any driver busted under such circumstances—would face a mandatory minimum fine of $2,000 and up to 10 years in prison (in addition to any resulting murder, manslaughter or property damage charges).

Canada's new, stricter impaired driving rules, set to take effect on December 18, will also allow police officers to administer breathalyzer tests to anyone behind the wheel of a vehicle they lawfully pull over, at any time, for any reason.

Prior to this, police could only test a driver's breath for alcohol if he or she were behaving in such a way that someone would reasonably believe they were intoxicated—say, if they smelled like booze, had open booze in their car, or, you know, fell asleep while waiting for 40 chicken nuggets.

Federal Bill C-46, which passed in June, ups these fines and mandatory minimum prison sentences in an effort to stop so many Canadians from dying on account of impaired driving—an average of almost four people every day, according to the government.

"Research suggests that up to 50 per cent of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit are not detected at roadside checkpoints," said Sgt. Brett Moore of the Toronto Police Service in a news release.

"Mandatory alcohol screening will assist in deterring individuals impaired by alcohol from driving as well as better detect those who do."

As of tomorrow, first offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of 80 to 119 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood are subject to a mandatory $1,000 fine (which gets steeper, the higher your BAC is found to be).

Those who refuse to submit a breath sample outright could be charged with a criminal offence and will have to pay a mandatory minimum $2,000 fine, either way.

It's just one more reason to leave your car at home on a big night out, should you need another reason not to drive while drunk.

Lead photo by

TPS Traffic Services


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