The Ontario government has announced its intention to introduce new penalties for drug-impaired driving ahead of the legalization of recreational marijuana next summer.
The province plans to increase all fines and suspensions for impaired driving offenses, both with drugs and alcohol.
Premier Kathleen Wynne says the province is adopting a zero-tolerance policy for drivers age 21 and under, novice drivers, and commercial drivers.
Any drivers in these categories will face stiffer penalties if caught behind the wheel while under the influence of cannabis.
The province is also using the opportunity to double down on alcohol-impaired driving by increasing fines and penalties.
The announcement comes after the Ontario government announced its intention roll out the sale of marijuana next July at 40 standalone LCBO-run stores, which will increase to 150 stores by 2020.
The second time around will result in a week-long license suspension and a $350 fine. Further occurrences will receive a 30-day suspension and a heftier $450 fine.
Any drivers found with blood alcohol levels between .05 and .08 will face suspensions of up to 30 days and fines of up to $450.
Any drivers over a .08 blood alcohol level will face a 90-day suspension and a $550 fine and commercial drivers caught at any time will face a three-day suspension and a $450 fine.
According to Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca, federal charges for impaired driving can also be brought, potentially resulting in “a loss of license, additional fines or jail time”.
Currently, the province is working with the federal government to approve oral-fluid road tests which use saliva to examine THC levels. It isn’t clear yet how effective they will be in colder weather.