Ontario is making changes to the Highway Traffic Act to address issues of impaired driving, distracted driving and vulnerable road user safety, effective July 1, 2018.

These amendments, to be implemented between July 1 and January 1, 2019, affect regulations enacted under the Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, Schedule 4 and the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act.

Of particular note are the new zero tolerance measures for drivers of commercial vehicles:

Starting July 1, drivers of commercial vehicles must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of zero – which is measured at 0.02 – and equivalent blood drug content (BDC) as detected by an oral fluid screening device when driving a commercial vehicle. If a commercial driver has alcohol in their system (above 0.02 BAC), they will face serious penalties, including licence suspensions and administrative monetary penalties.

With the federal government’s intentions to legalize cannabis, zero tolerance drug sanctions will also be effective starting July 1, 2018. It is important to note that the zero tolerance drug sanctions will not be enforced until the Federal Minister of Justice approves and authorizes the use of an approved drug screening equipment.

Zero tolerance sanctions prohibiting commercial vehicle drivers from having the presence of a drug or alcohol in their body – as detected by a federally approved oral fluid screening device or an approved alcohol breath screening device – apply to commercial vehicles defined as:

  • a vehicle requiring a A, B, C, D, E, or F licence to operate;
  • a road building machine;
  • a vehicle that requires a Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR).

Medial cannabis users may be exempted from zero tolerance sanctions if a police officer is satisfied they are legally authorized to use drugs for medical purposes. However, these drivers can still face penalties or criminal charges if a police officer determines their ability to drive has been impaired. OTA will request the incoming Minister of Transportation revisit the exemptions to the zero tolerance for those prescribed medical marijuana. OTA does not believe there should be any exemptions for cannabis containing thc (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis) regardless of whether it’s for medical or recreational use.

Additional details contained in MTO’s new initiative can be found by clicking here

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