Alberta's impaired driving legislation imposes penalties on first-time offenders with blood alcohol concentrations between 50-100 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, including license suspension, vehicle seizure, and fines. Appeals for Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS) can be made within seven days and may require a lawyer with experience in both criminal and administrative law. Penalties for first-time offences include fines, license suspension, interlock device usage, and driving record entries. Civil and criminal charges are possible, and penalties for second-time offenders are more severe, potentially including jail time and alcohol education programs.
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Impaired Driving in Alberta
*Generally, the Criminal Code is the basis for impaired driving charges, but there may be supplementary sanctions under provincial law.
As of December 1, 2020, Alberta implemented new impaired driving legislation. First-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration between 50 and 100 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood will be subject to penalties under the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act. These penalties include a 3-day licence suspension, a 3-day vehicle seizure, and a $300 fine.
SafeRoads Alberta / Immediate Roadside Sanction
If you are charged with impaired driving in Alberta, it is important to be aware that you only have seven days, including weekends, to contest the charge. The government agency responsible for handling these offences is SafeRoads Alberta. If you have been charged under the new laws, you may have received an Immediate Roadside Sanction (IRS). The paperwork you received from the police officer, such as the Notice of Administrative Penalty and the IRS form, will include instructions on how to appeal the penalty and the timeframe for doing so (seven days).
Appealing IRS Penalties
If you have received an Immediate Roadside Sanction (IRS) for impaired driving in Alberta, you have the option to appeal the penalties. This process can be challenging and it may be advisable to seek the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in impaired driving and the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act. These cases involve both criminal and administrative law, so it is important to work with a lawyer who has experience in this area. If you are representing yourself in the appeal of an IRS, you may face additional challenges. Appeals may be denied for reasons such as including irrelevant information, not properly enumerating grounds for appeal, or unintentionally incriminating oneself. These cases involve both criminal and administrative law, so it is important to carefully prepare and present your appeal to increase your chances of success.
If you are able to successfully appeal your IRS, you may be able to avoid paying the $1,200 fine, having your license suspended for 90 days, being required to use an interlock device in your vehicle, and having an entry on your driving record for impaired driving. Winning an appeal can also help you maintain your ability to drive for work, transport your children, and meet other daily needs.
Penalties for a First-Time Offence
The penalties for a first-time offence are:
- Fines of $1,000 + $200 victim fine surcharge, for a total of $1,200, plus
- Your licence will be suspended for 90 days after that you will have to drive with the interlock device (a blow box) in your vehicle for an additional 12 months, plus
- There will be an entry on your driving record (driver’s abstract) for impaired driving, plus
- Your vehicle will be seized and impounded for 30 days – you will be responsible for paying the impound fees
These penalties will in turn affect your insurance rates, all adding up to a very expensive process.
Civil and Criminal Charges Are Possible
In some cases, drivers in Alberta may be charged with impaired driving under both the SafeRoads Alberta regime and the Criminal Code of Canada. It is important to understand the differences between these two processes and how they may affect you. Both carry the same minimum penalties, including a $1,200 cumulative fine, a 90-day complete suspension, the requirement to use an interlock device for 12 months after the suspension, and an entry on your driver's record for impaired driving. If you are also charged under the Criminal Code, you may face a criminal record for impaired driving in addition to these penalties. If you are charged under both regimes, you may face double the penalties. If you have received Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS) under the SafeRoads regime and have also been charged with a criminal offense, it may be beneficial to seek the assistance of a lawyer with experience in these matters to help you fight the duplicitous charges.
Penalties for Second Time Offenders
In Alberta, the penalties for a second impaired driving offence are more severe than those for a first offence. If you are found guilty, you may face a fine of up to $2,000, a three-year license suspension, and a mandatory interlock device requirement for two years after suspension. You may also face jail time and be required to participate in an alcohol education or treatment program.
It is important to note that these penalties are minimum sentences, and the judge has the discretion to impose harsher penalties depending on the circumstances of your case. For example, if your blood alcohol content was significantly above the legal limit or if you were involved in an accident while driving impaired, the judge may impose more severe penalties.