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Red Divider Line

Government of Canada amends the Criminal Code
to deal with Impaired Driving through Ignition Interlock Devices
Bill C-46

Ottawa, December 5, 2001 -- Anne McLellan, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today introduced in the House of Commons a Bill to amend the Criminal Code that will expand the use of ignition interlock devices to more effectively respond to the problem of impaired driving.

Impaired driving claims too many victims in Canada, said Minister McLellan. Ignition interlock devices are an important prevention and rehabilitation tool in the fight against drunk driving.

Impaired driving offenders serving long periods of driving prohibition are more likely to ignore the driving prohibition imposed under the Criminal Code and drive while disqualified. Ignition interlock device programs have been shown to reduce the number of offenders driving while disqualified, to permit better supervision of these drivers and to reduce recidivism.

An ignition interlock is a small device that analyses a breath sample for blood-alcohol concentration. It is wired to the vehicles ignition system. The device requires the driver to provide a breath sample every time an attempt is made to start the vehicle. Interlocks allow an offender to operate a vehicle lawfully while at the same time reassuring the public that an offender will only be able to drive when the blood alcohol concentration is below a prescribed limit that is set by the jurisdiction. The devices record all samples given and are regularly monitored during maintenance appointments with program authorities.

Currently, a judge can authorize an ignition interlock device, in jurisdictions that offer such a program, only for first time offenders. The amendment would allow judges to authorize use of an interlock program for repeat offenders. It will continue to be up to the provinces and territories to decide whether an ignition interlock device program will be made available.

This amendment responds to recommendations from:

  • MADD Canadas 2001 report Taking Back Our Roads which states the ignition interlock provisions of the Criminal Code should be expanded to encourage all impaired driving offenders to participate in an interlock program whether they are first or repeat offenders.
  • Provinces such as Quebec, which has successfully implemented an ignition interlock device.
  • The 2000 Uniform Law Conference resolution in support of ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders which was passed unanimously

It is also consistent with the report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights of May 1999 on impaired driving where it is stated that &the Committee is persuaded that wider use of these devices could provide even more public protection while offering meaningful deterrence to individual offenders.

With this amendment, after three months of the minimum prohibition of one year (first offence), six months of the minimum prohibition of two years (second offence) or 12 months of the minimum driving prohibition of three years (subsequent offences), an offender could be permitted to drive the rest of his/her driving prohibition, provided that the person uses an ignition interlock device as part of a provincial or territorial program.

Experience in Quebec and Alberta shows that keeping an offender under the control of the licensed driving system with an interlock device is effective in the fight against impaired driving, explained Minister McLellan.

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Farah Mohamed
Minister McLellans Office
Hal Pruden, Cousel
Criminal Law Policy Section
Department of Justice

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