Service NL
May 28, 2018

New Drug Impaired Driving Laws Further Strengthen Legislation

Proposed amendments to the Highway Traffic Act will further strengthen impaired driving legislation in the province in anticipation of legalization of cannabis in Canada.

These amendments will build on recent improvements to the Highway Traffic Act which came into force in September 2017 related to alcohol related offences, as well other amendments coming into effect on June 7 related to distracted driving, excessive speeding, stunting, street racing and other offences.

The proposed revisions to the Highway Traffic Act will ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador is prepared for the changes that will occur when the Federal Government legalizes non-medical cannabis whereby Bill C-45 will legalize and regulate cannabis in Canada and Bill C-46 will create new provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada for drug impaired driving.

Upon legalization of cannabis by the Federal Government, the following changes will take effect:

  • Zero tolerance for drugs for novice drivers, drivers under age 22 and commercial drivers;
  • Seven day vehicle impoundment for the presence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol for novice drivers, drivers under age 22 and commercial drivers;
  • Seven day vehicle impoundment for all drivers deemed impaired based on Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST)/approved testing device and/or Drug Recognition Expert (DRE);
  • Thirty day vehicle impoundment for all drivers for refusal or failure to comply with a demand, consistent with alcohol; and,
  • Medical exemption provisions, subject to confirmation of legally authorization and the individual not being impaired.

These proposed amendments, more specifically zero tolerance for novice drivers under age 22, are supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), as well as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The commercial trucking industry including the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada and the Canadian Trucking Alliance also support zero tolerance for commercial drivers.

A more detailed list of the regulatory changes can be found in the backgrounder below.

Quotes
“Driving while impaired by drugs is already an offence under the Highway Traffic Act. The amendments we are proposing today under the Act will have similar penalties for impaired driving, whether due to alcohol or drugs. Continued public safety is our goal, and those who choose to drive while impaired have no place on our roads and will face significant penalties as a result of these amendments to the Highway Traffic Act.”
Honourable Sherry Gambin-Walsh
Minister of Service NL

“Driving under the influence of drugs is illegal and puts lives at risk, and it is crucial to have strong laws and penalties to reflect that. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has significantly strengthened its alcohol-impaired driving laws in recent years, and MADD Canada applauds its continued leadership with these new measures to prevent drug-impaired driving.”
Patricia Hynes-Coates
MADD Canada National President

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Media contacts
Krista Dalton
Service NL
709-729-4748, 685-6492
kristadalton@gov.nl.ca

Patricia Hynes-Coates
MADD Canada
709-834-7663

BACKGROUNDER

Amendments to the Highway Traffic Act

Current Penalties

Novice driverDriver Under 22 and not a novice driverCommercial driversAll other drivers
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) greater than 0 mg in 100 ml of bloodTwo month suspension and seven day vehicle  impoundSeven day suspension and seven day vehicle  impound
BAC between 0.05 mg and 0.08 mg in 100 ml of bloodTwo month suspension and seven day vehicle  impoundSeven day suspension and seven day vehicle  impoundSeven day suspension and seven day vehicle  impoundSeven day suspension and seven day vehicle  impound
BAC greater than 0.08 mg in 100 ml of blood90 day suspension and 30 day vehicle  impoundSeven and 90 day suspension and 30 day vehicle  impoundSeven and 90 day suspension and 30 day vehicle  impoundSeven and 90 day suspension and 30 day vehicle  impound
Refusal or failure to comply with a demand (drug or alcohol)90 day suspension and 30 day vehicle  impound Seven and 90 day suspension and 30 day vehicle  impound Seven and 90 day suspension and 30 day vehicle  impound Seven and 90 day suspension and 30 day vehicle  impound
Impaired by drug or drug and alcoholTwo month suspensionSeven day suspension Seven day suspension Seven day suspension

New Penalties

Novice driverDriver under 22 and not a novice driverCommercial drivers operating commercial vehicle All drivers
Impaired by drug or drug and alcohol (SFST, testing device and/or DRE)Two month suspension and seven day vehicle  impoundSeven day suspension and seven day vehicle  impoundSeven day suspension and seven day vehicle  impoundSeven day suspension and seven day vehicle  impound
Impaired by drug or drug and alcohol (bodily fluid sample or bodily fluid sample and breath)90 day suspension on confirmation of laboratory results90 day suspension on confirmation of laboratory results90 day suspension on confirmation of laboratory results90 day suspension on confirmation of laboratory results
Refusal or failure to comply with a demand90 day suspension and 30 day vehicle  impoundSeven and 90 day suspension and 30 day vehicle  impoundSeven and 90 day suspension and 30 day vehicle  impoundSeven and 90 day suspension and 30 day vehicle  impound

2018 05 28                              1:15 p.m.