After Car Thieves, Now Ontario Government Proposes Lifetime Driving Bans for Impaired Motorists Too

Individuals convicted of impaired driving may face mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, aimed at monitoring alcohol levels in their breath.

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In a bid to curb the devastating impact of impaired driving, the Ontario government is considering strict penalties that could see drunk or drug-impaired motorists losing their driver’s licenses for life.

Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria is set to unveil these stringent measures, which include escalated roadside suspensions for initial and subsequent offences, in an announcement scheduled for Wednesday.

Minister Sarkaria emphasized the urgency of these measures, stating, “Too many families in Ontario have had their lives torn apart by the careless and shameful actions of impaired drivers.” He underscored the fundamental right of every individual to return safely to their loved ones.

The proposed penalties also extend to car thieves, with the potential for lifetime driving bans being floated. Additionally, individuals convicted of impaired driving may face mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, aimed at monitoring alcohol levels in their breath.

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These proposals come in response to public outcry, fueled by tragic incidents such as the case involving Marco Muzzo, a convicted drunk driver sentenced to a decade in prison. Muzzo’s reckless actions in 2015 resulted in the deaths of three children and their grandfather, prompting a 12-year suspension of his driver’s license.

The proposed reforms have garnered support from advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), who commended the government’s tougher stance on impaired motorists. MADD noted that despite strides in awareness, too many individuals continue to choose to drive under the influence.

Under the new measures, immediate roadside suspensions for first-time offenders would increase from three to seven days, and for repeat offenders, the suspension would extend from seven to 14 days. Furthermore, law enforcement will receive enhanced training and tools to detect instances of cannabis-impaired driving, with a concerted effort on public education targeting young drivers.

Highlighting the severity of the issue, the government revealed that one in three road fatalities involves impaired driving, with the prevalence of cannabis-related fatalities doubling between 2012 and 2020. These proposed penalties signal a concerted effort to address the persistent menace of impaired driving on Ontario’s roads.

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