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Important Changes to the Highway Traffic Act

(December 8, 2008) The McGuinty government backed down this week from controversial components of its Road Safety Act after immense pressure from the Progressive Conservative Caucus and young people from across Ontario. The focus of Bill 126 should have been to ensure that young drivers understand that there are serious consequences to getting behind the steering wheel of a car with alcohol in their system and driving at excessive speeds. Instead, the Bill caused a blaze of controversy because it also sought to prohibit G2 drivers from carrying more than one passenger aged 19 and under.

It is strange to think that these very same young people could get a license to be a commercial pilot and drive planes full of passengers or serve as a soldier and drive armored tanks around Afghanistan, but they wouldn’t be allowed to drive their friends to hockey practice in Ontario.

As I said on television in Collingwood last week, young people and their parents emailed me in droves after this legislation was introduced and so I am glad that the government has agreed to back down.  Now we can focus on the positive aspects of the legislation.

If passed, the Bill will introduce zero tolerance for drinking and driving for those under the age of 21.  Drivers in that category must have zero blood alcohol concentration when they are behind the wheel and that is a measure we should all agree with.

The legislation will also extend the length of a beginners (G1) license from a minimum of 8 months to a minimum of 12 months, while the G2 portion of the graduating licensing system will extend to an 18 month minimum from the current 12 months. 

It will also impose harsher penalties for those who drive with a suspended license and for those who drive over the legal alcohol limit.   If this Bill is passed you risk having your car impounded for 7 days on top of the existing consequences.

Fines will also increase for failing to stop for a red light, not wearing a seat belt, and not moving over for an emergency vehicle.

For more information on the Road Safety Act please click here to find a handy guide that outlines what changes will be made to the Highway Traffic Act through this Bill.  I welcome your feedback.

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