March 2, 2017
Protecting Public Safety
Highway Traffic Act Changes Aim to Reduce Impaired Driving
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is taking important steps toward improving public safety by introducing amendments to the Highway Traffic Act to strengthen impaired driving laws.
“The consequences of impaired driving have devastating and far-reaching effects for families and communities across Newfoundland and Labrador. Today, government is taking action to make our highways safer for everyone by making changes that will prevent impaired drivers from committing repeat offences, and help the young people of our province develop sober driving habits.”
- The Honourable Perry Trimper, Minister of Service NL
The proposed amendments will expand the province’s vehicle impoundment program, making it mandatory for a police officer to order the vehicle of an impaired driver to be impounded. This amendment will reduce the ability of impaired drivers to commit repeat impaired driving offences.
The amendments also include the introduction of a mandatory ignition interlock program as a condition for driver’s licence reinstatement following a conviction for impaired driving. This amendment will give convicted impaired drivers an opportunity to develop sober driving habits.
Additionally, drivers less than 22 years of age will be required to maintain a blood alcohol content (BAC) of zero per cent. The intent of this amendment is to give young drivers the opportunity to form good driving habits that separate alcohol consumption from driving.
The amendments were developed through extensive consultation with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and with the support of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“MADD Canada welcomes this legislation. The measures being proposed are effective ways to reduce impaired driving, and reduce crashes, deaths and injuries. We thank the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for its leadership in bringing these measures forward, and its commitment to improving road safety in the province.”
- Patricia Hynes-Coates, National President, MADD Canada
Service NL will work closely with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the Department of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour and the Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation to raise awareness, particularly among young people about the new legislation.
Further details about the amendments are provided in the attached backgrounder.
- The Provincial Government is introducing amendments to the Highway Traffic Act to improve public safety and reduce impaired driving.
- The amendments include the introduction of a mandatory ignition interlock program as a condition for driver’s licence reinstatement for convicted impaired drivers.
- The amendments also include mandatory roadside impoundment of a vehicle when a driver is found to have a BAC above the legal limit, or when they refuse to provide a breath sample.
- Under the new legislation, drivers less than 22 years of age will be required to maintain zero per cent blood alcohol content.
- The amendments were developed through extensive consultation with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and with the support of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
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Media Relations Manager
National President, MADD Canada
Highway Traffic Act Changes to Reduce Impaired Driving
Mandatory roadside vehicle impoundment
- The Highway Traffic Act will be amended to provide authority under the Vehicle Seizure and Impoundment Regulations to require roadside impounding of vehicles when a driver receives a roadside driver’s licence suspension related to impaired driving.
- For all drivers, this includes having a BAC over the legal limit or refusing to provide a breath sample.
- Vehicles will be impounded for three days for a first offence, seven days for a second offence within 10 years and 30 days for a third or subsequent offence within 10 years.
- Vehicle owners will be liable for all towing and storage costs for the period of impoundment.
- This amendment will reduce the ability of an impaired driver to commit repeat impaired driving infractions.
Mandatory ignition interlock program
- Ignition interlock is an in-vehicle alcohol breath screening device that prevents a vehicle from being started if it detects a BAC over a pre-set limit. The system also requires breath samples at random pre-set times while the engine is running. If the interlock test fails while driving, it activates an alarm (lights flashing, horn honking) until the engine is turned off.
- Use of an ignition interlock program will be a mandatory condition for reinstatement of a driver’s licence after an impaired driving suspension has been completed.
- The condition will appear as a restriction on the driver’s licence.
- The mandatory ignition interlock will be required for one year for a first conviction, three years after a second conviction within 10 years, and five years for a third or subsequent conviction within 10 years.
- At the discretion of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, the interlock requirement may be extended if it is determined that the driver still poses a risk to the public based on data collected by the device.
- All costs for the installation and operation of an ignition interlock device will be the responsibility of the driver.
- This amendment will reduce the ability of an impaired driver to commit repeat impaired driving infractions and allow them time to develop sober driving habits upon reinstatement of their driver’s licence.
Zero BAC for drivers less than 22 years of age
- MADD’s 2015 Provincial Impaired Driving Report indicates that young people have the highest rates of traffic death and injury per capita among all age groups, and the highest death rate per kilometre driven among all drivers under 75 years of age.
- The MADD report also indicates that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among 15 to 25 year-olds and alcohol is a factor in 50 per cent of those crashes.
- Under the existing Graduated Licensing Program, drivers are required to maintain zero per cent BAC for the first 20 to 24 months of driving. For many drivers, this falls between the ages of 16 and 18.
- The proposed amendment will require drivers who are less than 22 years of age to maintain a zero per cent BAC while driving.
2017 03 02 11:35 a.m.