Ontario Teenagers: Ouch

MaxPower November 17th, 2008

The Ontario government is expected to introduce tough new legislation tomorrow that will further restrict the privileges of young drivers.

New measures affecting young new drivers are expected to include:

* A total ban on alcohol consumption
* A ban on more than one teenage passenger
* Zero tolerance for speeders – one ticket and they’re off the road.

Now apparently these new rules are because of a situation which occurred in Ontario in July when four 19 and 20 year olds had 31 drinks over 3 hours and then drove home, wrecked and three died. A tragedy. MADD and others took that and ran with it, producing full page ads to ask for “province to revoke the licences of those under the age of 21 should they be caught speeding or driving with any alcohol in their system”.

I fully support anti-drunk driving laws. However, I don’t agree with just targeting those under 21. What of drivers above 21? And I don’t understand this jump from “no drinking whatsoever” to “one speeding ticket and your license is revoked”. That is a massive leap.

Speeding and drunk driving are two different issues. The majority of drivers have never driven drunk (I hope), but I’d put good money down saying that the vast vast majority, if not every single driver, has at one time or another exceeded the speed limit.

This is a slippery slope. In taking an overt nanny-state view of “young drivers” for the first five years of their licensing period (16 – 21 years old), the Ontario government will establish a precedent which could or even should be extended to everyone. What is the logical difference between having such harsh rules for the first five years of licensing and then all of a sudden saying “go crazy”. The next logical step by the Government of Ontario can only be to make speeding essentially a criminal offense in which any driver could have their license revoked for one incident.

Finally, the enforcement of this is a nightmare. Only one other teenager in the car? On a drive-by how can an officer estimate whether someone is 22 or 21 and accurately tell whether the passenger(s) are over 22? Will this only be enforced when stopped for another traffic violation (i.e. speeding) or will police officers start pulling over cars where they see 3 or 4 “young looking” people? Either way it is bad, because if you are getting caught for speeding and your license will be revoked then who cares how many passengers you have. And if it is carte blanche for officers to pull over “suspected teen passenger over-limiters” then they will be useless in the enforcement of actual crimes, bogged down by scary 16 – 21 year olds trying to travel around in packs.

Granted this is NOT tabled in the legislature yet and the Star notes “A spokesperson for the ministry of transportation could not be reached for comment” as all of this info comes from a 3rd party, however, if true this is yet another unnecessary over-step by the Ontario government. If untrue then I (preemptively) blame the Toronto Star for shabby reporting and investigating practices. Tomorrow we shall see.

  • This is quite possibly one of the most ridiculous things I have heard about in some time now.

    “A ban on more than one teenage passenger”

    Seriously? Thats complete bullshit and it will never fly. You can restrict alcohol, you can restrict speed, but you can’t restrict the number of people in a car based on the driver’s age. Its too judgmental.

    You speed, its obvious, and you can get caught.
    You drink and drive, its obvious, and you will get caught.

    But, you drive with friends when you’re under 21? That is just downright silly to regulate.

  • Agreed however speeding is often not obvious and this type of zero tolerance enforcement raises so many issues it is hard to know where to start.

    1 km/hr over the limit when speedometers & radar guns have a 5 km/hr +/- error? Revoke the license? Not in any rational world, but “zero tolerance”.

    Single parent (could easily be under 21), needs car to get kid to school and to work. Caught doing 10 km over? License revoked? Not in any rational world. The punishment doesn’t fit the “crime”.

    Zero tolerance doesn’t work in so many different instances and police “usually” have discretion, so when I see an attempt to legislate nanny-state silliness it concerns me because of the potential to take this to the nth degree. And what will happen? An explosion in unlicensed drivers.

    The drunk driving thing is fine by me and if they said something like first time for 40 km over the limit or a “dangerous driving” conviction then it gets revoked then fine. But this is just crazy.

  • To look at it one way.. I think they’re telling teenagers to be less kind to the environment..

    Remember how many of us would carpool to high school? You’d need 2-3 cars instead of 1.

    Can’t we think of the children?! ;)

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