Summary – Bill on Impaired Driving

Impaired driving is the leading cause of criminal death in Canada.

• Tougher sentences for repeat drunk drivers offering courts greater discretion to hand down tougher sentences

  • The maximum sentence for driving causing bodily harm will be increased from 10 to 14 years, offering justices greater discretion, while hardened repeat offenders, when found guilty, will face a one-year prison sentence for a 2nd offence and a two-year sentence for a 3rd offence.
  • For impaired driving causing death, sentences will vary from 5 to 25 years depending on severity and aggravating factors.
  • When more than one life is lost, justices will be able to apply consecutive sentences.

• Relieving pressure on the courts by eliminating legal delays and loopholes

  • The Bill will eliminate the bogus drinking defence used when the accused claims that their BAC was over 80 at the time of the test because they quickly consumed several drinks just before driving and would strictly limit the intervening drink defence when an accused claims to have consumed alcohol after being stopped by the police and therefore that their BAC would not have been over 80 while driving.
  • Favour guilty pleas by giving lighter sentences to those who acknowledge their offense in good faith.

• Increasing the perceived probability of arrest for hardened repeat offenders by implementing mandatory screening

  • Mandatory screening will allow police to ask any driver at any time to provide a breath sample in order to determine its alcohol content, as recommended by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
    • Researchers established that police identified no more than 50% of drivers whose blood alcohol content was over 80mg/dl.
    • In a survey sponsored by Transport Canada and MADD Canada, 66% of Canadians felt that police should be allowed to randomly test drivers’ breaths to fight against driving under the influence of alcohol.
    • Countries that implemented mandatory breath screening witnessed a significant decrease of the number of recorded road deaths.