Amendments to Motor Vehicle Act mean changes for new drivers, faint hope clause

Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act, effective April 1, are expected to reduce crashes and injury for new drivers and make roads safer from impaired drivers.

There are two changes affecting new drivers:

  • those who exit the newly licensed phase after April 1 will be required to maintain zero blood alcohol content for two years; and
  • to be a supervisory driver, a person must wait for two years after exiting the newly licensed phase of the graduated licence program. Currently, a person can be a supervisory driver immediately after exiting the newly licensed phase.

A further amendment called the "faint hope" clause addresses impaired drivers who have had their licence permanently revoked. The amendment allows those drivers to apply for reinstatement after at least 10 years of being without a licence, and only if they are willing to submit to rigorous criteria and be continuously monitored through the alcohol ignition interlock program for at least five years. These requirements are in addition to any criminal sanctions from a court.

"Our research demonstrates many of these drivers are driving regardless of their licence revocation -- uninsured, unlicensed and unregistered," Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Geoff MacLellan said in a March 31 announcement. "Working with MADD Canada, we've introduced an opportunity for eligible drivers to regain their licence through the alcohol ignition interlock program. This means we can continuously monitor progress of reinstated drivers."

About 86 people are eligible under the "faint hope" regulations. Reinstatement is not guaranteed.

For more information about the amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act, see http://novascotia.ca/tran/interlock.html.

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