Starting soon, Ontario will initiate the most strict age restrictions on DUI and drunk driving in Canada.
The new DUI laws will kick in on August 1, according to an article in The Waterloo Region-Record.
Under the new laws, drivers under the age of 22 won’t be able to drink a drop of alcohol, or take a single sip, before they drive a car.
The announcement came down from Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne. Drivers under 21 won’t be allowed to have any alcohol in their blood while they are driving, regardless of what type of driver’s license they have.
Canada has a graduated series of licenses leading up to the G license, which allows drivers to operate any car, van or small truck and trailer up to a certain size. The G1 license allows a driver to drive in the presence of a fully licensed driver who has at least four years of driving experience.
A G2 license allows a driver to drive without accompaniment, but it comes with other restrictions on the number of passengers and the time of night they can carry passengers.
Even before the new legislation goes into effect, G1 and G2 drivers were not allowed to have any alcohol in their system when they are behind the wheel. With the new laws, only G license holders who are over the age of 21 are allowed to have alcohol in their system that does not exceed the legal blood-alcohol limit of .05 percent.
The legislation is only now taking effect, after having been passed back in 2009.
There was dispute surrounding the legislation, and lawmakers removed a provision that would have limited the number of passengers that a teenage driver could have in the car.
Drivers who are caught violating the new law will have their license immediately suspended for 24 hours, and they will face a future suspension and a possible fine of up to $500 Canadian dollars.
Emna Dhahak, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation, told The Waterloo Region-Record that the legislation is “based on sound research and analysis.”
16-year-old Easton Page agreed with the law. “Mixing alcohol and young drivers doesn’t usually work out,” he said. “If you’re going to be behind the wheel you need to be completely in the right mind and focus on what you’re doing. You can’t have that taken away from you.”
Another young person felt that the law may single out young people. “I think that it’s a really good idea for people who are just learning to drive,” said Meghan Garber. “But I think it’s unfair how they target the younger people.”
Andy Murie, who is CEO of MADD Canada, offered that skeptics should check the numbers.
Those aged 16 to 24 represent 13 percent of the Canadian population, but account for 33 percent of DUI deaths. “They don’t just kill themselves,” said Murie. “They kill passengers, their friends, and they kill innocent people. They don’t get to choose when this is their performance.”
Accord to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, the peak ages for DUI collisions are between 19 and 21.