Calgary DUIs are Down, But Drivers Should Still Beware: Part 1

Charges for impaired driving, more commonly known as "driving under the influence" of DUI, remain among the most common charges brought against individuals in the Greater Calgary Area, and a common cause for arrest and detention by the Calgary Police.

Harsher penalties, more intensive public awareness and safety campaigns, and the lessening of the stigma surrounding alcohol dependence (which enables and encourages more people with alcohol abuse problems to seek the help they need) have all played a part in reducing DUI rates in Calgary over the past several years, yet the numbers show that it is still a significant issue.

2016 saw the same trend continuing, with overall DUI rates in the City of Calgary dropping but with impaired driving charges still remaining one of the most frequent causes for criminal cases in the Calgary courts. That's a situation that leaves many in Calgary still at risk in terms of both their health and safety and their exposure to potentially lifelong legal repercussions.

Dramatic Decline in Calgary DUIs in 2015

According to Staff Sergeant Paul Stacey of the Calgary Police Service Traffic Unit, the number of impaired driving charges laid by the Calgary Police in 2015 is encouraging.

"We had a very low fatality rate involving impaired drivers, and a low amount of people charged with impaired driving," said Stacey. "I like the idea that the trend is going down."

A total of 2080 impaired driving or DUI/DWI charges were laid against drivers in Calgary in 2015, compared with more than 2500 just one year before. That's a drop of nearly 18%, or more than a sixth fewer DUI charges, in just one year. Staff Sergeant Stacey's comment also suggests that a lower proportion of impaired driving incidents resulted in fatal accidents, which is also good news for everyone in Calgary.

Whether or not this substantial decline in the number of DUI charges laid in Calgary is the result of stricter impaired driving penalties in Alberta is a matter of extensive debate. This 18% decline is the biggest drop in DUI charges seen in Calgary in many years even though the laws have been in effect since 2012; there have also been increased public awareness campaigns over the same period that might have had a more direct and dramatic impact. Interestingly, Staff Sergeant Stacey suggests that the harsh penalties in place for those convicted of a DUI, or those simply arrested for suspicion of impaired driving, might not be harsh enough.

"Especially when we're talking about sentencing for impaired causing death and impaired causing injury, I would say that just from what I've been hearing from the public, it's pretty low."

This hints at the reason that Calgary's 2015 DUI aren't purely a cause for celebration, something we'll look into in Part 2 of this article.

Legal Defence for Your Calgary DUI Charge

If you've been charged with a DUI/impaired driving in the Greater Calgary Area, you are entitled to consult with a defence lawyer and get professional legal assistance with your defence. For a free initial consultation with one of Calgary's leading DUI defence lawyers, please contact Susan Karpa today.