Attorney General Hands Over Vehicle To Anti-Drinking-And-Driving Group
TORONTO, Aug. 18 /CNW/ -
Three vehicles owned by two repeat drunk drivers have been taken away
permanently under Ontario's new drinking and driving civil vehicle forfeiture
This is the first time in Canada that vehicles owned by repeat drunk
drivers have been forfeited under a civil vehicle forfeiture law. In both
cases, government lawyers satisfied the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that
the vehicles were used, or were likely to be used, in a drinking and driving
offence and that the owners of the vehicles had been suspended from driving
for a drinking and driving offence two or more times in the past 10 years.
Today, in South Porcupine near Timmins, Attorney General Chris Bentley
handed over a vehicle to the Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving and
its member group Action Sudbury to use as they raise awareness about the
dangers and consequences of drinking and driving. Another vehicle will be
shared by Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving member groups in the
Northwest Region for the same purpose.
The McGuinty government introduced amendments to Ontario's civil
forfeiture law in the Safer Roads for a Safer Ontario Act, 2007. The new
provisions took effect in February 2008.
"We're keeping Ontario's roads and families safe from vehicles used by
people who repeatedly choose to drink and drive," said Attorney General Chris
Bentley. "This new law is a message to drunk drivers: Stop your irresponsible
behaviour or you could lose your wheels."
"This new law is very important in fighting impaired driving," said Anne
Leonard, Executive Director of the Ontario Community Council on Impaired
Driving. "Ensuring the public becomes aware of the consequences of repeatedly
drinking and driving is also vital. This forfeited vehicle will be used in our
community activities to serve as a powerful example of those consequences."
"No one poses more of a threat to the safety of everyone who uses our
roads, than the driver who continues to drive despite having one or more
convictions for impaired driving," Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner
Julian Fantino said. "The new civil vehicle forfeiture law gives the OPP an
effective new tool to remove the vehicles of repeat impaired driving offenders
from our roads and highways."
"The repercussions of impaired driving are felt by many innocent
victims," said Ron Roy, Chair of Action Sudbury. "We will use this vehicle in
Northern Ontario for our ongoing community work to help prevent the tragedies
drinking and driving can cause."
"Taking away the vehicles of repeat impaired drivers helps make our roads
safer for everyone," said Joanne Peacock, Health Promoter, Sioux Lookout
Committee for the Prevention of Substance Abuse. "We are pleased to use this
vehicle to help get the message across: drive sober."
- Drinking is a factor in about a quarter of all fatal crashes in
Ontario with twice as many people killed in drinking and driving
related crashes in the summer, compared to winter.
- Drunk driving offences include impaired driving, impaired driving
causing bodily harm or death, driving with a blood/alcohol
concentration over 80 milligrams, failure to provide a breath sample
and driving while disqualified for one of these offences.
- Ontario leads the way in combating drinking and driving through some
of the toughest laws and programs in North America, including:
- Immediate licence suspension
- Stiff fines
- Longer suspension periods
- Mandatory alcohol education and treatment
- Vehicle impoundment.
Read the Civil Remedies Act
Learn more about the Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving
Learn more about drinking and driving laws in Ontario
Disponible en français
CIVIL VEHICLE FORFEITURE
Civil Remedies Act
Amendments to the Civil Remedies Act, included in the Safer Roads for a
Safer Ontario Act, 2007, which came into effect on February 20, 2008, set a
new standard for road safety by focusing on vehicles used by repeat drinking
and driving offenders.
This law allows civil courts, at the request of the Attorney General, to
impound and forfeit a vehicle, if the court finds:
- That the vehicle was involved in, or is likely to be involved in, a
drinking and driving offence, AND
- The vehicle is owned or driven by a person whose driver's licence has
been suspended for a drinking and driving offence two or more times in
the preceding 10 years.
The civil court would also have the power to release a vehicle from
"impound" before it is forfeited if the registered owner of the vehicle agrees
to certain court-imposed terms and conditions including:
- Fitting the vehicle with an ignition interlock device - an alcohol
breath-screening device that prevents a vehicle from starting if it
detects a blood alcohol concentration over a pre-set limit
- Having the registered owner agree that the person whose actions
resulted in the forfeiture application would not drive the vehicle.
The new law also protects the interests of responsible vehicle owners who
do, or have done, all they can to ensure that their vehicle is not being
driven, or will not be driven in the future, by the person who continues to or
is likely to continue to engage in a drinking and driving offence.
How Civil Vehicle Forfeiture Works
The new law applies to automobiles, motorcycles, motor assisted bicycles
The process for civil forfeiture of vehicles involved in repeat drinking
and driving offences begins when police or Crown prosecutors submit a case to
the reviewing authority, an independent Crown counsel in the Ministry of the
Attorney General. That counsel decides whether the statutory criteria in the
Civil Remedies Act have been met. Once that is confirmed, the case information
is forwarded to the ministry's Civil Remedies for Illicit Activities Office
(CRIA), which is responsible for enforcing the Act.
CRIA lawyers bring proceedings to court on behalf of the Attorney
General. If they can prove that the vehicle was driven, or is likely to be
driven, by someone who has committed or is likely to commit a drinking and
driving offence, the court can issue orders forfeiting the vehicle to the
Generally, forfeited vehicles go to public auction and the proceeds
deposited into a special purpose account. Direct victims of the unlawful
activity associated with the forfeiture can submit a claim for compensation
against the funds. Remaining funds may be disbursed for grants to support
programs and initiatives that assist victims of unlawful activity or prevent
Civil Forfeiture Successes
Ontario's Civil Remedies for Illicit Activities office is recognized
nationally and internationally for its precedent-setting work. Since November
2003, a total of $6 million in property has been forfeited to the Crown. The
province also has approximately $10 million in property that is frozen pending
the completion of civil forfeiture proceedings.
Under the Civil Remedies Act, the Attorney General has:
- Forfeited three vehicles under the new civil vehicle forfeiture law
- Shut down a notorious Hamilton crack house and transferred ownership
to the City of Hamilton
- Frozen crack houses in Hamilton and Chatham
- Forfeited an outlaw biker clubhouse in Thunder Bay
- Frozen an outlaw biker clubhouse in Oshawa
- Crushed two street racing cars
- Taken 10 guns off the streets (including a stun gun)
- Forfeited 23 properties used for marijuana grow operations and frozen
- Forfeited over $1 million in illicit cash
- Distributed approximately $1 million in compensation to victims of
- Awarded more than $900,000 in grants to law enforcement agencies.
Disponible en français
For further information:
For further information: Sheamus Murphy, Ministry of the Attorney
General, Minister's Office, (416) 326-1785; Brendan Crawley, Ministry of the
Attorney General, Communications Branch, (416) 326-2210