Alberta revamps impaired driving laws

As of last December, our Province has implemented new legislation to deal with impaired driving. While the Criminal Code offences of impaired operation and .08 remain in effect, the manner in which these allegations are dealt with has changed considerably. This article details these important changes.

What the previous impaired driving laws involved

Previously, if an individual was asked by police to provide a roadside breath demand and that individual failed the roadside test, they would be taken to the local Calgary Police Service District office in order to provide evidentiary breath samples.

If these samples equalled or exceeded .08 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood then, the person received a Provincial Driving Suspension as well as an appearance notice to appear in Provincial Court. If convicted of the offence in Provincial Court, the individual would receive a criminal record, fines, a driving prohibition and even jail time.

Alberta’s new legislation on impaired driving laws

Alberta’s new legislation, the Immediate Roadside Sanction Program, is based upon the current British Columbia model and largely decriminalizes the offence of impaired driving. Pursuant to the program, where an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that an individual has committed an impaired driving offence, the driver will be issued an IRS Fail.

An IRS fail results in the following retributions:

  • A 30-day vehicle seizure
  • An immediate 15-month driving suspension
  • A $1000 fine, and;
  • The driver will be required to complete an impaired driving educational course.

After serving 3 months of the suspension, the individual is free to drive provided they have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle.

Will impaired driving result in a criminal record and court proceedings?

Pursuant to this new program, the majority of individuals will not have to participate in Court proceedings and a criminal record will not result. That said, should the individual be a repeat offender or should there be bodily harm or injury to another person, criminal charges will result.

While the sanctions associated with the IRS program are immediate, they are also reviewable. Should an individual wish to dispute the IRS Fail, then they must file an appeal within 7 days of the suspension’s issuance.

A written review will then be scheduled within the next 21 days. Be it through the Criminal Justice System or through the administrative appeals route, our office has the requisite skill and experience to guide our clients through impaired driving cases.