Calgary DWI DUI Defence Starts with Alberta's DWI Laws

Canada as a whole and Alberta specifically have been stepping up their response to driving while intoxicated or DWI (also called driving under the influence or DUI). This means all drivers in Calgary and the surrounding area should make themselves familiar with the current blood alcohol content (BAC) limits, and with the legal ramifications and even criminal penalties that can arise from choosing to drive while impaired.

New Standards for Criminal DWI/DUI Offences in Calgary

Alberta's new rules for DWI/DUI offences went into effect in the second half of 2012, and have already led to a major reduction in the number of alcohol-related vehicle accidents. In the eyes of law enforcement and public health officials, the tougher penalties for DWI/DUI are doing exactly what they are supposed to do—make people think twice before driving while intoxicated and reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road.

The new laws do not change the definitions of drunk driving/alcohol-related impaired driving, but the change in penalties is still very significant. It is also important to remember that driving while intoxicated is a violation in and of itself, yet driving while impaired can also unintentionally lead to more serious violations and criminal acts.

Under Alberta law, there are three levels of impairment due to alcohol that Calgary area drivers should be aware of:

  • For drivers with a graduated driver's licence (GDL), any detectable alcohol in the blood stream (a BAC of over .00) is a DWI violation and carries administrative (i.e. non-criminal) sanctions.
  • For all drivers, a BAC between .05-.08 is a DWI violation with administrative sanctions.
  • For all drivers, a BAC over .08 is a DWI violation that leads to both criminal charges and administrative sanctions.

Understand What a Calgary Area DWI/DUI Will Cost You

Each of the above violations, besides putting the driver and others on the road at risk of injury and even death, carries specific penalties. Though a DWI with a BAC over 0.08 can result in a criminal charge, assuming no other violations have occurred, the administrative sanctions for lower levels of intoxicated driving can be quite costly:

  • GDL drivers with a BAC over .00 face an immediate 30-day licence suspension and a 7-day vehicle seizure
  • Any driver with a BAC between .05 and .08 faces an immediate 3-day licence suspension and 3-day vehicle seizure for a first offence. A second offence results in a 15-day licence suspension and 7-day vehicle seizure along with a mandatory "Planning Ahead" course, while a third offence increases the suspension to 30 days and requires an "Impact" course.
  • Any driver with a BAC over .08 faces a criminal DWI charge and an immediate licence suspension until the criminal charge is resolved. A first charge also mandates a 3-day vehicle seizure and the "Planning Ahead" course, while second and third charges both lead to a 7-day vehicle seizure and the "Impact" course. If criminal DWI charges lead to a conviction, mandatory ignition interlock is required for one year following a first conviction, three years for a second conviction, and five years for a third.

Defence Help from a Calgary DWI/DUI Lawyer

If you've been arrested or accused of a DWI/DUI offence, you have the right under Canadian law to receive advice from a criminal defence lawyer. For a free consultation with an experienced Calgary area attorney, contact Susan Karpa today.