Chemistry, the Law, and Your Calgary DUI: Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, you read about the shifting impaired driving laws in Alberta that created a criminal DUI charge that isn't based on any other traffic infraction, reckless driving, or other behavior while behind the wheel. Instead, DUI charges in the Greater Calgary Area throughout the province are now defined through chemistry, creating a clear metric for laying an impaired driving charge.

Under the impaired driving laws currently in effect in Calgary, anyone operating a vehicle on public roads with a blood alcohol content or BAC above .05 can be charged with an administrative penalty, and anyone driving with a BAC at or about .08 faces a criminal DUI charge and up to a year or more of imprisonment based on other factors relevant to the case.

Even if you're operating your vehicle lawfully in all other respects, and even if you don't feel intoxicated, and don't appear to be impaired in your interactions and behavior, you can still be charged with a criminal offence for a DUI.

Why Alberta Went Chemical on DUIs

There is certainly an argument to be made that the laying of DUI charges should be based on behavior and actions rather than a relatively arbitrary chemical definition of an intoxicated mental state. The reasoning behind Alberta's DUI laws and other similar laws throughout Canada and the world is that waiting for a significant infraction to show evidence of impaired driving puts the public at greater risk, if drunk drivers can be removed from the road simply for being above a set limit of alcohol consumption they are less likely to cause an accident that leads to serious injuries or fatalities.

A BAC of .08 has been shown through research to be a point where an average person's response time and other mental and physical functions are impaired to the point that they can be considered truly intoxicated and thus unfit to drive. Some very rare individuals might actually be able to function just fine with a BAC at this level, and others might be fully intoxicated with a much lower BAC (and it is possible to find yourself facing a DUI charge even if your BAC is lower than the legal threshold).

The DUI laws at work in Calgary also recognize that "buzzed" driving is also impaired driving; if you can "feel" the alcohol in your system, you're chances of being in an accident go up dramatically. A BAC of .05 is the point at which the average person begins to feel a "buzz" from drinking, which is why it was set as the limit for an administrative DUI penalty in Alberta. Again, it doesn't matter if you aren't feeling buzzed and are adhering to all the rules of the road—if you are pulled over or stopped for any reason, and if a Calgary police officer administers a breathalyzer test that determines your BAC is over the limit, you will likely be facing an administrative DUI charge.

Contact an Experienced Calgary DUI Lawyer Today

We'll look at certain problems with breathalyzers and other DUI issues in Part 3 of this article. In the meantime, if you have questions about your own DUI case, please contact my office today.