DUI Charges

Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyers

Impaired Driving Lawyers in Calgary

Are you a resident of Calgary or the surrounding area who has been charged with an impaired driving offence? If so, Batting, Wyman Barristers can help. Our team of experienced DUI lawyers in Calgary can provide you with the strong legal representation you need to generate the best possible defence.

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Experienced DUI Lawyers in Calgary

Impaired driving laws have changed a great deal over the last few years. Recent Criminal Code amendments have made obtaining a conviction easier for the Crown. However, the penalties, should a conviction result, have also increased. Given the technical nature of impaired driving prosecutions, it is imperative that an individual hire counsel with experience in this arena. Impaired driving cases are one of the main focuses of our practice. We have conducted hundreds of such trials and are in court weekly defending clients. Consequently, we are incredibly well-versed in the arguments needed to obtain an acquittal.

Once retained, our office obtains the Crown disclosure material. This constitutes the prosecution’s case and includes the officer notes, Intoxilizer maintenance records, and relevant media. Once this is acquired, we meticulously evaluate the officer’s investigation, searching for irregularities. At trial, these deficiencies are then exposed.

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When an individual is arrested for impaired operation of a motor vehicle, they are taken to the nearest police detachment to provide breath samples. Once at the station, the breath technician’s role is to collect the evidentiary breath samples. This is accomplished by the client blowing into an Intoxilizer, which produces their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). Should their BCA exceed .08 grams of alcohol in 100 ml of blood, a charge will be laid. Like all Criminal Code offences, the client is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

That said, when an individual is charged with an impaired driving offence, provincial legislation requires that their vehicle be impounded, and their license be suspended for 90 days. The impoundment costs are considerable; however, the immediate driving prohibition is often our client’s biggest concern at the outset. Given the time requirements, our office’s priority is appealing the license suspension. Impaired driving prosecutions are primarily based on the quality of the officer’s investigation.

The cases often focus on the Certificate of Analyst (the document generated from the Intoxilizer, which shows the individual’s BAC) and whether it is admitted into evidence. It is the defence lawyer’s role to seek exclusion of this document. This can be achieved by constitutional Charter arguments or through non-compliance with the relevant Criminal Code provisions.

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Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS): The Latest Changes to Impaired Driving Laws

An IRS, or Immediate Roadside Sanction, is when a driver has their licence suspended due to a drug or alcohol-related impaired driving allegation. Such sanctions are regulated by the Immediate Roadside Suspension Program that was implemented Alberta-wide on December 1, 2020.

The duration and class of suspension is based on your licence category and the police roadside screening results.

There are five different sanctions:

  • IRS: 24-Hour: You’ll receive this sanction if a peace officer has reasonable grounds to believe you have consumed drugs or alcohol or have a medical condition that may influence your mental or physical capacity.
  • IRS: Novice: You’ll receive this sanction if you hold a probationary or learner’s licence. A novice motorist is not authorized to have any alcohol in their system.
  • IRS: Commercial: You’ll receive this sanction if you drive a commercial vehicle (bus, delivery truck, etc.) under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Similar to novice motorists, commercial drivers are not authorized to have alcohol within their system while behind the wheel.
  • IRS: Warn: You’ll receive this sanction if a peace officer has reasonable grounds to believe you are between 50-80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood.
  • IRS: Fail: You’ll receive this sanction if a peace officer has reasonable grounds to believe you: A) operated a vehicle with a compromised cognitive ability due to drugs or alcohol, B) You have a BAC equal to or greater than 80 mg of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood within 2 hours after ceasing to operate a motor vehicle, C) You had a blood drug concentration equal to or greater than any blood drug concentration under the Criminal Code, D) You had a combined blood alcohol and drug concentration equal to or greater than the limits advised by the Criminal Code within 2 hours of ceasing to operate a vehicle or E) You failed or refused, without a valid reason, to follow a command made under clause 320.27 of 320.28 of the Criminal Code within 2 hours of operating a vehicle.

If you need assistance, we are available 24/7 403-263-4949

In addition, you may obtain a criminal DUI charge with the IRS. The criminal charge impositions may depend on the following:

  • Prior DUI charges
  • If injury or bodily harm has occurred
  • If any children were present in the vehicle

Your IRS and any criminal proceedings you face are separate and distinct. The decisions made via criminal courts concerning the related criminal charges have no influence on your provincial licence suspension.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Absolutely not. Impaired/.08 operation of a motor vehicle is Criminal Code Offence. As such, a criminal record, fines, incarceration, and driving prohibitions are all on the table if convicted. The type of penalty imposed is commensurate with the client’s prior criminal record, the blood alcohol concentration and whether a collision/injuries ensued.
    While there is often little dispute that our client has operated a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol, obtaining a conviction is no easy task for the Crown. Impaired driving offences are complex in that they focus on the quality of the police officer’s investigation and whether the evidentiary prerequisites for admissibility have been satisfied. While numerous defence lawyers shy away from such cases, impaired driving matters are a cornerstone of this firm. Should a case deficiency exist, it will be identified and exploited by our skilled lawyers.
  • In Alberta, an individual’s license is suspended immediately after a charge has been laid by police. This flows from the provisions of the Traffic Safety Act, a piece of provincial legislation. The suspension lasts for 90 days, after which time the client can operate their vehicle if they’ve had the ignition interlock device installed. Such a device will allow the vehicle to start provided the driver is capable of providing a breath sample with 0 blood alcohol concentration. The suspension applies to all motorists, even those who are ultimately acquitted of the criminal charges.
    A without notice driving prohibition is immensely problematic and leads to complications with employment, child care, and travel plans. Fortunately, the driving prohibition can be challenged by way of an administrative appeal. That said, time is of the essence. The relevant legislation requires that the Transportation and Safety Board appeal be filed within 30 days of the suspension being issued. The filing of this appeal is a priority once our office assumes conduct of the file. Should the appeal not be filed, the client will be forced to drive with the ignition interlock device, and be responsible for the costs affiliated with its installation and operation, for 12 months minimum. As getting back on the road remains a priority for our clients, haste action appeal-wise is imperative.
  • Impaired driving prosecutions are a specific subset of the Criminal Code. Given its intricacy, they are conducted by a specialized prosecutorial unit. A successful defence hinges on the defence lawyer’s ability to locate irregularities in the investigation and knowledge of the case law. The lion’s share of defences are constitutional in nature and flow from the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Issues often arise pertaining the lawfulness of the traffic stop, the grounds for arrest, the timing of the relevant breath demands and samples, as well as the opportunity to speak with counsel. In addition to Charter matters, the Criminal Code contains provisions regarding admissibility of documentary evidence, this includes the Certificate of Analyst which sets forth the blood alcohol concentration of the accused’s breath samples. While these are arguments that are commonly advanced, the technical nature of this area of law allows experienced counsel a multitude of defences.
  • Section 320.15 of the Criminal Code makes it an offence to fail or refuse to provide a breath or blood demand. If convicted, the consequences for a refusal are identical to its impaired operation and .08 counterparts. While penalties are equivalent, the elements of proof required differ drastically. For any refusal prosecution, the Crown must prove the existence of a lawful demand and an act or series of acts that constitute a failure or refusal by the accused. This can be accomplished by the client communicating verbally or through their actions that they will not provide a sample. Alternatively, clients will be charged if they attempt to but are unable to provide a sample but are unable to do so. Should the Crown prove these elements, it then falls to the defence to establish that a reasonable excuse exists. Lawful excuses include but are not limited to: medical issues, police mistreatment, as well as legitimate concerns concerning the working order of the device.