Conservatives introduce crackdown on drunk drivers

With new legislation introduced in the final days of Parliament, new measures won’t become law any time soon

Darryl Dyck/CP

Darryl Dyck/CP

OTTAWA — Two years after they first made the commitment, the Conservatives are finally introducing a renewed crackdown on drunk drivers.

But with the new legislation being introduced in the final days of Parliament, the new measures won’t become law any time soon.

As one of his final acts as justice minister, Peter MacKay is introducing the Dangerous and Impaired Driving Act, a bill that reforms transportation-related offences including those relating to impaired driving.

“We are sending a strong signal to those who choose to drive impaired, that this behaviour is not only unacceptable but is also creating a serious risk to public safety and putting everyone on the road at risk,” MacKay told a news conference Tuesday.

Once passed, the bill would increase maximum penalties for impaired driving and introduce new mandatory jail time instead of fines for some offences.

The bill would also limit certain defences available to those charged with impaired driving, including one that has allowed people to argue their blood alchohol level was high because they drank after stopping the car.

But the law focuses only on those who drive under the influence of alchohol; the government says they are waiting for the results of a report on driving under the influence of drugs before moving on that issue.

The House of Commons is set to break for the summer within days and Parliament will soon be dissolved for the upcoming election, meaning the proposals are unlikely to become law until the next government is formed.

The Conservatives had initially promised tougher penalties for drunk drivers in 2013, soon after MacKay became justice minister, with him citing his frustrations as a prosecutor in dealing with such cases.

MacKay announced earlier this month he is not seeking re-election.

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