Calgary's DUI Laws: The Purpose, the Problems, and Your Potential Defence: Part 4

This is the last installment of a four-part article series. Click here for Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3.

In the previous three articles in this series, we looked at an overview of the newer impaired driving or DUI laws at work in Calgary and Alberta at large. We saw that the purpose of these laws is not to truly to lock up those found guilty of DUI or drunk driving offences in the Calgary area and the rest of the province, but rather to impose harsh punishments as a way of making more people decide that drinking and driving, or driving under the influence of intoxicants other than alcohol, simply isn't worth it.

We also saw that criminalizing certain behaviors and imposing harsh penalties may not actually dissuade people from engaging in those behaviors, and that's just one of the several serious problems that have been raised with these DUI laws. Perhaps more distressing is the fact that these laws impose automatic penalties after an arrest, and allow warrantless stops and searches in the investigation/detection of impaired driving offences, both of which strike at the foundational principles of the criminal justice system, according to some.

As important as these issues are, and as much as they should continue to be debated, the fact is that the laws have been upheld in the courts and are still in effect on Calgary's roads. In addition to understanding why these laws exist and the problems they may represent, then, drivers in Calgary need to know how these laws can affect them and their defence against DUI charges.

Your Best Defence Against DUI Charges in Calgary

First, you need to know that complying with lawful requests made by Calgary Police or other law enforcement officers is an absolute necessity. If you fail to perform roadside sobriety tests and/or provide a breathalyzer sample when requested to do so, whether at a DUI checkstop or if you were pulled over for another reason, you can be charged with another crime in addition to being charged with impaired driving/DUI. You can also be required to accompany an officer to a location for a blood and/or urine sample.

Second, you are not obligated to answer any law enforcement questions other than identifying yourself and submitting to the above-mentioned tests until you speak with a criminal defence lawyer. You can request a lawyer as soon as you are arrested or detained, and the Calgary Police and other agencies must comply with that request (though they can still perform sobriety tests and require you to provide breath, blood, and urine samples after you've requested a lawyer).

Third, you have the right to consult with a criminal defence lawyer at every stage of your DUI proceeding. Partnering with a legal professional who has the knowledge and experience in dealing with DUIs that most Calgarians lack is often in your best interests. For a free consultation with Calgary DUI defence lawyer Susan Karpa, contact her office today.