Ontario Law Firm Urges Implementation of Ignition Interlock Program in Ontario

Published: 15th February 2010
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In the provinces where it is in place, the Ignition Interlock Program has proven successful in reducing the number of repeat impaired driving offences. For persons convicted of drinking and driving offences it can reduce the hardship, especially for those living in rural areas and for those who need to drive for their employment. The Ontario criminal law firm of Aitken Robertson (http://www.fightthecharges.com) urges the Ontario legislature to move ahead and implement the Ignition Interlock Program. "Although the provincial government passed Bill 203, and as of June 4, 2007 the ignition interlock program has been on the books, the legislature has been very slow in coming up with the regulations that will govern how the program actually works. Basically, they have said that they agree with the program but refuse to complete the task of setting it up," states Nathan Baker, partner at Aitken Robertson. "The government has left the program in a strange position. MADD and the Ontario Police Association are both behind this program and want it brought in. They know that it is fair to people by allowing them to earn their driver's privileges back in steps and that this program actually decreases drinking and driving through behaviour modification," says Baker.

Section 259(1.1) of the Criminal Code of Canada allows a Judge sentencing a person convicted of a drinking and driving offence to receive his or her driver's license back in as little as three months provided that person has enrolled in a provincial ignition interlock program. The federal government has recognized the huge impact losing a driver's license has on an individual, especially in a rural setting. It's one thing to lose your license for a year if you live near public transit but another thing completely when the nearest grocery store is 15 km away and work is even farther. Since October of 2008, every person convicted of a drinking and driving offence is eligible for the program unless the Crown applies in particular circumstances and a Judge agrees. The federal government recognizes that, in the vast majority of cases, this program is the most successful.

Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Saskatchewan and the Yukon Territory all have ignition interlock programs in existence and they seem to be working well. By modifying the behaviour of people charged with drinking and driving offences it keeps them from committing the same mistake again. By forcing them to drive with no alcohol in their system people learn to modify their behaviour and continue to drive without drinking alcohol after the ignition interlock period is over. The ignition interlock device is basically a breath monitoring machine which is installed and wired into the ignition of the vehicle. Prior to starting the vehicle, the driver must blow into the machine. If the machine registers alcohol on the person's breath then the vehicle ignition is locked out and the vehicle simply will not start. As well, while driving, the machine will at random intervals require the driver to blow into the machine again. If the driver does not blow, or blows and has alcohol in his or her system, then the machine shuts the car down.

The Ignition Interlock Program still offers serious punishment for drunk drivers. On a first offence a person convicted will lose their license for at least 3 months and then have to enter into the ignition interlock program for a period between 9 months and 3 years. On a second offence there will be a 6 month loss of license and ignition interlock for between 18 months and 5 years. Finally, on a third or subsequent offence the accused will not be driving for at least a year and could be forced to have the ignition interlock installed for life. In addition, the provincial government will impose additional interlock requirements of one year on a first offence, 3 years on a second and life on a third in addition to the Criminal Code sanctions just mentioned. The ignition interlock device costs approximately $1500 each year to install and maintain.

"The Ignition Interlock Program is a very good program; it just needs to be implemented. It lowers the number of multiple offenders and it is supported by people on both sides of drinking and driving offences. It allows people, especially those living in rural areas to keep their jobs and keep working. The legislature of Ontario should finish the job it started and get the regulations completed," states Baker.

Contact Information:

Nathan Baker

Aitken Robertson, Barristers & Solicitors

263 Charlotte Street

Peterborough ON K9J 7Y4

Toll Free 1-800-668-1657

705 742-0440




About Aitken Robertson, Barristers & Solicitors: The Ontario law firm of Aitken Robertson specializes in the criminal defence of drinking and driving cases and all DUI offenses. With 45 years of combined legal experience, Aitken Robertson uses a unique team approach, offering clients individual attention, aggressive representation and a vigorous defence to achieve the best possible outcome. Practicing in Toronto, Peterborough, Oshawa, Lindsay, Coburg and Kingston, Aitken Robertson offers a free initial consultation and reasonable payment plans. For more information call 1-800-668-1657 or visit their website http://www.fightthecharges.com

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