A Calgary DUI Can Earn You a CRIMINAL Charge, Not Just a Demerit Point

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Beginning in January 2016, a new "demerits" system will be put in place for Calgary drivers. Under this system, minor driving infractions will result in earning a certain number of demerits—negative points—that build up against your driver's license. Earn too many demerits (fifteen in a span of two years, for most drivers with a Class 5 license), and your license will be suspended.

Under the demerit system, your license will be suspended for one month the first time your number of demerits reach the threshold, three months for the second suspension in two years, and six months for a third suspension—and you might also be be required to appear before the Alberta Transportation Safety Board. While losing your license can no doubt be disruptive and a serious consequence, these demerits still only represent minor infractions, not criminal charges.

When it comes to impaired driving—commonly know as a "DUI" or "driving under the influence—the charges are much more serious.

Understanding the Seriousness of Calgary DUI Charges

The demerit system for traffic violations, which might also affect the rates you pay for auto insurance in addition to leading to potential license suspensions, is being implemented to address growing concerns such as distracted driving (e.g. driving while texting or doing something else with your cell phone, while eating, etc.), speeding (with speeding more than 50 km/h over the posted speed limit earning 6 demerits, as opposed to only 2 for going between 15 and 50 km/h over the posted speed limit), and racing or other careless driving (another 6 demerit points).

These choices are dangerous, there's no doubt, however the law treats them very differently than it does impaired driving, which is defined as being intoxicated by alcohol or another substance while operating a motor vehicle. If an officer of the Calgary Police or other law enforcement agency charges you with impaired driving or a DUI, you won't just be facing a suspension of your driver's license—you could be looking at criminal charges, heavy fines, and even potential jail time.

Though distracted driving is believed to contribute to many more accidents in Calgary and throughout Canada, impaired driving is still taken far more seriously by the police and the Calgary courts. Obvious safety concerns aside, getting behind the wheel after even a single drink isn't worth the legal risk. Take the advice of an experienced Calgary DUI defence lawyer, and don't confuse a potentially criminal DUI charge or impaired driving offence with the relatively mild system of demerit points being introduced next year.

Whether it's fair or right that impaired driving is dealt with more harshly than distracted driving, that is the current state of things you and your defence lawyer you will have to contend with.

Contact a Calgary DUI Defence Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has been charged with impaired driving in the Greater Calgary Area, you are entitled to speak to an experienced Calgary DUI defence lawyer. Don't wait—for a free initial consultation, please contact my office today.

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