Impaired Driving Defence

Legal Services | Impaired Driving

Alberta Impaired Driving Lawyers

Impaired driving is also commonly referred to as DUI, DWI, and drunk driving. Impaired driving is one of the most complex offences found within the Criminal Code

There are often many complicated issues involved in impaired driving cases including: the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure of blood or breath samples, the right to counsel, and the intention of a driver who is not operating a motor vehicle upon police arrival.

An impaired driving offence can have serious consequences for your future and your ability to drive. If you are charged with an impaired driving offence it is important to get in contact with an experienced criminal defence lawyer immediately.

The impaired driving lawyers at Davidson Gregory Tralenberg have experience defending individuals charged with the most serious impaired driving offences including impaired operation causing bodily harm and impaired operation causing death. 

Recent Changes to Impaired Driving Laws in Alberta – SafeRoads Alberta

Police can now issue Immediate Roadside Sanctions (including fines, licence suspensions and vehicle seizures) for Impaired Driving offences without laying Criminal Charges. 

On December 1, 2020, Alberta enacted new provincial laws for dealing with impaired drivers. In most cases, if you are charged with your first impaired driving offence, you will be charged under the new Provincial Administrative Penalties Act instead of the Criminal Code. However, depending on the circumstances of the charges, drivers may still be criminally charged in addition to the roadside sanction. 

If you are issued an Immediate Roadside Sanction, you only have 7-days to file an appeal. It is important to get in contact with an experienced criminal lawyer immediately to ensure your rights to appeal are preserved.  

Consequences for Impaired Driving – Immediate Roadside Sanctions

If you are issues an Immediate Roadside Sanction, you will be dealing with SafeRoads Alberta, the administrative adjudication branch of Alberta Transportation. Your hearing will proceed in front of a single Adjudicator.

Fighting these penalties is difficult. It is important that you hire an experienced impaired driving lawyer for these penalties. 

The penalties for a first-time offence under the Immediate Roadside Sanction program are:

  • Vehicle seizure for 30 days 
  • 90-day License suspension followed by 12 month participating in the ignition interlock program (“blow box”)
  • $1,200 fine ($1,000 fine plus $200 victim fine surcharge)
  • Participate in a remedial Impaired-driving course 

An Immediate Roadside Sanction penalty will additionally be recorded on your driving record and will impact your insurance rates. 

Operation While Impaired by Alcohol

Police have the power to issue a mandatory screening demand to any lawfully stopped driver. Depending on the results of the roadside screening device, the Police may choose to lay Criminal charges against you. 

The 3 most common Criminal charges relating to alcohol impairment include:

  • Impaired operation (impairment of any degree)
  • Having a Blood Alcohol Concentration at or over 80mg per 100 mL of blood (the police usually take breath samples but in some cases, like a motor vehicle accident, may make a blood demand or obtain a warrant for blood samples)
  • Refusal to provide a breath sample 

Penalties under the Criminal Code for Operation while Impaired

Alcohol-related Impaired driving offences under the Criminal Code are subject to the following mandatory minimums: 

  • 1st offence: Mandatory minimum $1000 fine; Maximum 10 years imprisonment
  • 2nd offence: Mandatory minimum 30 days imprisonment; Maximum 10 years imprisonment
  • 3rd offence: Mandatory minimum 120 days imprisonment; Maximum 10 years imprisonment

The fines will also increase for higher Blood Alcohol Concentration levels. The mandatory minimum fine for refusing to provide a breath sample is $2000. 

Consequences for alcohol-related impaired driving offences resulting in bodily harm or death to another individual are more severe. It is important to get in touch with an experienced impaired driving defence lawyer as soon as you are charged with an impaired driving offence. 

Operation while Impaired by Drug

If Police reasonably suspect a lawfully-stopped driver has a drug in their body, the Police can demand an oral fluid sample. Police can also demand a driver submit to a Standard Field Sobriety Test or a Drug Recognition Expert Evaluation.

A THC / cannabis blood-drug concentration of 5 ng of THC per mL of blood or more is prohibited.  Having a THC / cannabis blood-drug concentration of 2 ng per mL of blood but less than 5 ng per mL of blood is a less serious criminal offence and may result in a charge under section 320.14(4) of the Criminal Code. The maximum penalty for this offence is a $1000 fine. 

Having any detectable amount of LSD, psilocybin, psilocin (“magic mushrooms”), ketamine, PCP, cocaine, methamphetamine or 6-mam (a metabolite of heroin) in your blood while driving or within two hours of driving is prohibited.

Consequences for Operation while Impaired by Drug

Drug-related Impaired driving offences under the Criminal Code are subject to the following mandatory minimums: 

  • 1st offence: Mandatory minimum $1000 fine; Maximum 10 years imprisonment
  • 2nd offence: Mandatory minimum 30 days imprisonment; Maximum 10 years imprisonment
  • 3rd offence: Mandatory minimum 120 days imprisonment; Maximum 10 years imprisonment

Consequences for drug-related impaired driving offences resulting in bodily harm or death to another individual are more severe. It is important to get in touch with an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as you are charged with an impaired driving offence.

Choose Davidson Gregory Tralenberg to Handle Your Impaired Driving Case in Edmonton and Western Canada.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Impaired Driving

I’ve been issued Immediate Roadside Sanctions for Impaired Driving. What happens now?

You will have received a notice of administrative penalty. The notice of administrative penalty outlines the law you have allegedly contravened as well as the length of your vehicle seizure. You have 7 days to appeal your notice of administrative penalty through the SafeRoads Alberta portal. 

If I’m convicted of an impaired driving charge can I leave the country?

Whether you will be allowed into another Country will depend on that Country’s laws. In most cases if you have been convicted of only one impaired driving offence you will likely be granted entry into another country. 

What is the ‘Ignition Interlock’ program?

An ignition interlock (or “blow box”) is a device that is installed in a vehicle and is connected to the vehicle’s ignition system. The device requires the driver to provide a breath sample suitable for analysis before the vehicle will start. This device will prevent operation of the vehicle if the driver’s blood alcohol content exceeds the pre-set limit. Once started, the device requires the driver to provide random samples of breath throughout operation. 

The driver is responsible for paying all costs associated with the ignition interlock program including: installation of the device, ongoing monthly fees for the duration of the program, and a removal fee once the program is completed.  

What is the prohibited level of Cannabis (THC)?

There are two prohibited levels for Cannabis / THC. The lower prohibited level is between 2 nanograms (ng) and 5 ng of THC per mL of blood. The second level is 5 ng of THC or more per mL of blood. 

Is it legal to drive after taking CHB?

For the most part, CBD is safe as CBD does not have the same intoxicating impact as THC. If you have only used CBD you may not exhibit psychoactive effects that would impact your driving. However, you still must be careful about any side effects you may have that could still impact your driving. For example, if you are experiencing symptoms of tiredness you should not drive.