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Zero booze for young Ontario drivers challenged

TORONTO - A young Toronto man went to court Wednesday to challenge Ontario's new law prohibiting drivers 21 and under from having any alcohol whatsoever in their systems.

TORONTO - A young Toronto man went to court Wednesday to challenge Ontario's new law prohibiting drivers 21 and under from having any alcohol whatsoever in their systems.

Kevin Wiener, 20, filed his application in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, alleging the law that took effect Sunday violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it is based on age.

"I want to make it very clear that, like all Ontarians, I am absolutely against drunk driving and I’m for safer streets," Wiener said after filing his application with the court.

"That does not mean that we should have laws that discriminate on the basis of age."

The government counters that its law requiring all drivers 21 and under to have a zero blood-alcohol content, regardless of their class of licence, is based on scientific evidence showing accidents involving drinking drivers fall off dramatically after age 22.

Wiener dismissed the statistical argument, and said people who are old enough to serve in the military, perform jury duty and elect governments are mature enough to decide if they want a drink with dinner.

"Statistics show that male drivers, for example, are more likely to get into certain kinds of accidents, but I think we can all agree that we would never see the government apply legislation selectively to one gender or race or national origin because of statistics," he said.

"They seem to think it's OK to do so for age. Maybe that’s because young people aren’t as likely to vote."

The law needs to be changed to ban all inexperienced drivers from having any alcohol in their systems, but also to remove the alcohol ban on young drivers 21 and under, said Wiener.

"If this is a matter of experience then let’s change the legislation and have it apply to any driver regardless of age," he said.

"It’s not right for the government to try to treat adults like they’re children."

Wiener's application will get a hearing in court Nov. 1. He doesn't have a lawyer yet, but Wiener was hoping all the media attention he's generated by challenging the drinking ban will prompt someone to step forward and offer him legal representation.

Wiener admitted he's a member of the provincial Progressive Conservatives and federal Conservatives, but said he was acting alone in his challenge of the drinking and driving law.

"I am not co-ordinating this with any other groups or individuals," he said. "This is something I’m doing myself."

Five young drivers have been issued 24-hour driving suspensions by the Ontario Provincial Police since the rule came into effect.

 
 
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