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Government of Canada Supports Recommendations to Eliminate Impaired Driving
Source - Department of Justice - Canada

OTTAWA, October 25, 1999 Today, the Honourable Anne McLellan, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the tabling of the Government of Canadas Response to the 21st Report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Toward Eliminating Impaired Driving.

"Impaired driving shatters the lives of families and communities," said Minister McLellan. "The financial, social and human costs are unacceptable to Canadians, and the message we have underscored in our Response is that impaired driving will not be tolerated."

The Committees report, which was tabled on May 25, 1999, contains 17 recommendations, 9 of which focus primarily on penalties. These 9 recommendations were appended to the Committees report as a draft bill to amend the Criminal Code. On June 7, the Government responded by tabling Bill C-82, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving), based on the Committees draft legislation.

Bill C-82 included tougher penalties for impaired driving: it doubled the minimum fine for first-time offenders, and raised the maximum driving prohibitions for repeat offenders and the mandatory minimum driving prohibitions for all offenders. It also increased the maximum penalty for driving while prohibited to five years and created a maximum penalty of 10 years for leaving the scene of an accident involving injury and of life imprisonment for leaving the scene of an accident involving death.

Bill C-82 also amended the Criminal Code to require sentencing judges to consider as an aggravating factor, a blood alcohol level exceeding twice the criminal offence level and to specify that judges can order convicted impaired drivers to undergo assessment and treatment for alcohol addiction and to use an ignition interlock, where such programs are available. As well, police were given more time to demand a breathalyzer test when they suspect a driver was alcohol-impaired. Bill C-82 was given Royal Assent on June 17, and the provisions came into force on July 1, 1999.

In order to ensure swift passage of Bill C-82, a provision which would have raised the maximum penalty for the offence of impaired driving causing death from the current 14 years to a maximum of life imprisonment, was removed by the House of Commons and reintroduced in Bill C-87. Bill C-87 died on the Order Paper when Parliament prorogued, but the amendment will be reintroduced in the House of Commons this session.

In sum, the Government has taken legislative action on all 9 specific Criminal Code amendments placed by the Committee in its draft bill, either through Bill C-82 or Bill C-87s provision, which will be reintroduced this session. In addition, the Government supports or has acted on the remaining 8 recommendations.

In particular, the Government endorses the Committees one remaining recommendation for a specific change to the Criminal Code, which would allow police investigating collisions involving injury or death, to apply by telephone for a warrant from a judge to obtain a blood sample from a suspected drug-impaired driver where the driver is unconscious or otherwise unable to give consent. The current section in the Criminal Code only applies to circumstances where alcohol is involved.

The responses to other Committee recommendations reinforce the Government of Canadas commitment to work with interested provinces and territories, and to continue involving the efforts of organizations and individuals on a number of fronts, including public education.

"I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Members of Parliament on the Standing Committee for their dedication and hard work. I also would like to thank all those individuals and organizations who took the time to make presentations to the Committee. This commitment to the struggle against impaired driving is shared by this Government and millions of Canadians," said Minister McLellan.

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Line Chabot-Racine
Director of Communications
Ministers Office

Hal Pruden
Criminal Law Policy

Governments Response:

House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights Report,
Toward Eliminating Impaired Driving:

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