Beyond the Criminal Dangers of a Calgary DUI/DWI

Several past articles on this blog have discussed the risk factors and dangers of a DUI/DWI charge in Calgary, primarily from a legal and criminal justice perspective. While it is important for every driver on Calgary's roads to know the laws and how one can be affected by them, it is also important to know the inherent physical dangers drivers present to themselves, their passengers, others on the road, and to private and public property. These dangers are very real, and are the underlying motive behind administrative and criminal charges for impaired driving.

Impaired Driving is Canada's Deadliest Crime

Though incidents of drivers getting behind the wheel while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs have shown a gradual decline in recent years, possibly in part due to harsher criminal penalties, impaired driving remains Canada's leading single criminal cause of death and injury. In an average year, approximately 1,200 Canadians die in accidents caused by an impaired/intoxicated driver, and more than 70,000 are injured. Compare that to roughly 600 murders a year across the nation, and it's easy to see why DUI/DWI charges are considered such serious business.

Alberta has tended to have a more substantial problem with impaired driving than the nation as a whole, though the province has been part of the national trend of declining incidents of impaired driving. In Calgary, the rate of accidents and fatalities arising as a result of an alcohol- or drug-impaired driver have been in steady decline for several years, however in 2012 there were still 15 fatal collisions involving alcohol within the City of Calgary. That same year, 16 deaths in Calgary were ruled homicides, and it is sobering to recognize that just in this city impaired driving claimed almost as many lives as violent, purposeful murders.

Whatever your opinion on Alberta's newer, harsher criminal penalties for DUI/DWI charges—whether you think they're too severe, just right, or not severe enough—they need to be understood in the context of the direct harm and loss of life that these crimes can cause. These death rates, along with the much higher injury rates, are the primary reasons there are laws against impaired driving, and are the reason criminal laws continue to be adjusted in an attempt to better protect the citizens of Calgary.

Impaired Driving, Not Alcohol Use, Is a Crime

Some detractors of the new impaired driving penalties have accused Calgary law enforcement and the Alberta government of attempting to criminalize drinking, but this is simply not the case. As with drug use, alcohol dependency and overuse are increasingly being treated as public health issues rather than—or in addition to—criminal justice issues. Having too much to drink might be a sign of a medically-treatable problem; getting behind the wheel makes that problem a crime.

If you or a family member is facing criminal charges related to impaired driving, help is available. You can make things safer for you and your community. Please contact experienced Calgary impaired driving defence lawyer Susan Karpa today for a free consultation.

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