By Brendan Burke 
BELLEVILLE – The Ontario government  has announced increased penalties for drivers caught driving under the influence of drugs.
In a news release issued Wednesday, the province outlined its plans to introduce stricter measures similar to those already in place for drunk driving.
Beginning Oct. 2, intoxicated motorists will face a $180 fine and an immediate roadside licence suspension for three days.
If police can prove impairment through further drug testing , busted drivers could face a 90-day licence suspension, with their vehicles impounded for seven days.
The province’s tough stance will see drivers with two or more license suspensions in ten years enter mandatory treatment and education programs. The installing of an in-vehicle ignition interlock device will also be required – mirroring Ontario’s current conditions for convicted drunk drivers.
According to the release, the move to bring drug-impaired driving penalties up to speed is part of Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act  – a bill introduced in 2015 in a bid to bolster roadway safety for drivers and pedestrians alike.
Along with steeper fines and longer suspensions, the province’s stern stance on drug-impairment behind the wheel could result in criminal charges too.
The move comes ahead of the federal government’s planned legalization and regulation  of marijuana in spring 2017 – a looming shift in laws that has prompted concern  about increased pot-related traffic incidents.