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Tougher Impaired Driving Law Comes Into Force
Source - Department of Justice - Canada

OTTAWA, June 30, 1999 -- The Government of Canada has taken a decisive step to end tragedies on highways and roads caused by impaired driving. The Honourable Anne McLellan, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced today that legislation to increase penalties for drinking and driving will come into force tomorrow.

"Canadians have sent a strong message -- impaired driving will not be tolerated," said Minister McLellan.

"This issue has united Parliament in a common goal," said Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the Honourable Don Boudria. "Needless injuries and deaths and the devastation to families and communities must end, and I am especially pleased that the House of Commons and Senate have acted quickly and firmly to turn around this serious problem."

"We are very happy with this news and extremely pleased that the Justice Minister and her colleagues have made important progress towards ending drinking and driving," said Susan MacAskill, National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada, an organization which has galvanized individuals and communities in the fight against drunk driving. "But we know our efforts arent over and we will continue to work with all levels of government, police and other partners to eradicate impaired driving."

Under the strengthened law:

  • fines for first time impaired driving convictions double from $300 to $600;
  • mandatory minimum driving prohibition periods are significantly longer, from three months to one year for a first offence, six months to two years for a second offence, and from one year to three years on a subsequent offence;
  • maximum driving prohibition periods increase from three to five years for a second offence and from three years to a lifetime ban on a third offence;
  • the maximum penalty for driving while prohibited rises from two years to five years imprisonment;
  • police now have three hours, instead of two hours, to demand a breath or blood sample from a driver who they believe on reasonable grounds to be impaired;
  • judges may require the use of an ignition interlock as a condition of probation, where such a program is available; and
  • judges, at the time of sentencing, are now required to consider as an aggravating factor, a blood alcohol level exceeding twice the criminal offence level.

Minister McLellan thanked the all-party Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for its report Toward Eliminating Impaired Driving, which formed the basis of the new legislation. The Minister also praised the courageous efforts of organizations such as MADD Canada that have worked tirelessly to draw public attention to this serious issue and inspired governments to act quickly in transforming the recommendations into law.

?"More effective federal legislation is one part of our ongoing efforts to end needless heartbreak on our roadways," said the Minister. "We must continue working with provinces, territories, MADD Canada and others to raise awareness on health and education issues that involve communities, families and individuals."

A second impaired driving bill, C-87, which raises the maximum sentence for the offence for impaired driving causing death from the current 14 years to life, will be debated in the House of Commons this fall.



Hal Pruden
Criminal Law Policy

Line Chabot-Racine
Director of Communications
Minister's Office

Related news releases - June 10, 1999, June 7, 1999 and backgrounder.

C.P. July 2, 1999

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