Recent Changes To Federal Impaired Driving Legislation And The Ignition Interlock Device

Ed Prutschi explains the recent changes to impaired driving legislation and the ignition interlock device.

Although the new impaired driving legislation presents a number of challenges, the one glimmer of good news on the horizon is that legislation has been passed that would permit an individual convicted of impaired driving to receive an exception to the standard driving prohibition of one year that comes with every conviction for an impaired driving case. This change applies typically to first offenders with relatively low readings, no accidents and who have not caused any injuries. Additionally, this exception would only be applied if the individual installs the ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

This is a very significant legislative change that applies to many individuals whose primary, if not the only, reason to challenge a charge of impaired driving is because their driver’s license is not an optional feature; it is a necessity to their work, their social commitments and their family commitments. Without a valid driver’s license, there is no way for them to function or earn their living. Relying entirely on public transit is not an option. That’s particularly true for people living in more rural environments or in an occupation that requires driving. These individuals, when charged with impaired driving, have no choice but to fight as hard as they can to maintain their driver’s license. This legislation has been around for some time now but has only recently seen some measure of adoption in Ontario. If the Regulations are put into force, it creates an option where people will be able to maintain a license as long as the ignition interlock device is installed in the vehicle.

The problem is that this option falls under the provincial government’s responsibility. Each province needs to enact a regulation that creates the program by which the person can take advantage of this exception. Some provinces have already done so, but Ontario has been very ambiguous and slow about when, if ever, such a regulation will come into force. The current best guess is late 2008, but we have no firm date, so it is difficult to determine when it’s going to happen.

However, there are some judges now who are permitting individuals, whether on a guilty plea or after having been found guilty, to adjourn their cases and sentencing until such time as the government actually introduces these regulations. This precedent provides the opportunity for the argument that people should be allowed to take advantage of this program that exists but has not been started provincially. New developments on this front are happening every day in courts around the Province and we are watching very carefully to see how the final result plays out.

Lawyers in this field need to be very much up-to-date on these and any other legislative changes. We have to be careful to analyze new cases on a day-by-day basis in order to best advise our clients what their options are because the legislation and its implications are changing all the time.

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If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in the Toronto,Ontario Region, contact Adler Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman for a consultation.

This information is taken from an interview from November 29, 2007 with Ed Prutschi, Criminal Lawyer with Adler Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman, Toronto Criminal Lawyers. The article is provided as an information service only and should not be used as legal advice. Laws vary by jurisdiction so please consult with an appropriate legal professional if you are looking for help with a specific situation.