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The Law and Impaired Driving
Written by Gary
Local police, advocates praise legislation
DURHAM -- Local police and safe driving advocates are applauding tough new drinking and driving legislation set to take effect this weekend. As of Aug. 1, drivers age 21 and under are prohibited from consuming any alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Young drivers found with a blood alcohol level above zero will receive an immediate 24-hour licence suspension. They could also face a 30-day suspension and fines of up to $500.
"If something like this was in effect four years ago, my daughter may still be alive," said local resident Blair Carter, whose daughter Melanie died in 2007 at age 21.
She went to a party with no plans to drive and later got behind the wheel of an impaired friend's car, even though she had been drinking herself.
"At 21, you're not thinking the same way as someone in their 30s, 40s or 50s," said Mr. Carter, founder of advocacy group Safe and Sober Canada. "You don't have the same judgment and experience."
New drivers will also be impacted by the legislation. Drivers of any age with a G1 licence face the same zero-tolerance policy until they graduate to a G2 licence. The changes come after extensive lobbying by groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"There will be people that are unhappy with this, including some people in my own household, but we know this is the right legislation," said Andrew Murie, MADD's chief executive officer.
He expects the new rules to result in a 15 to 25 per cent decrease in impaired driving deaths of young people. Ontario is the fourth province to take a zero-tolerance approach to young and new drivers, following in the footsteps of Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Critics have said the changes unfairly target young people and several Facebook pages opposing the legislation have been created in recent months, drawing thousands of members.Sgt.
Shaun Arnott with the Durham Regional Police traffic unit said statistics clearly show that when drivers between the ages of 16 and 25 are involved in car accidents, driver inexperience or alcohol are typically to blame.He thinks the new rules are likely to make a difference.
"In the past, we would take someone's licence for 12 hours, that didn't make much difference. You go home and go to bed and then 12 hours have passed," he said. "The immediate 24-hour suspension definitely impacts your life if you have a job to go to the next day. And a potential 30-day suspension has an even bigger impact."