N.B. to increase penalties for drug-impaired driving next week

The New Brunswick government is amending its Motor Vehicle Act next week to slap harsher penalties on those who get behind the wheel while impaired by drugs.

As of Tuesday, police officers who stop a driver showing signs of being impaired by drugs will have the power to seize vehicles and suspend the person’s licence on the spot, according to a government news release.

Police will also have the authority to use an oral fluid screening device on people suspected of driving under the influence of drugs.

There will also be escalating short-term licence suspensions of seven, 15 and 30 days for repeat occurrences within a five year period and increased fees for getting a licence reinstated.

The province says the amendments are intended to complement the Criminal Code of Canada, which already has “serious consequences” for impaired drivers, including heavy fines, driving prohibitions and prison sentences for repeat offenders.

Public Safety Minister Carl Urquhart says impaired driving is one of the leading causes of preventable fatalities on highways.

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