Complications Lead to DUI Dismissals in Alberta, But Not Calgary

If you've been charged with impaired driving, commonly referred to as a DUI ("driving under the influence" charge), you know how disruptive, debilitating, and downright scary this charge can be. It's all too easy for a simple error in judgement or a mistake made by law enforcement to result in an impaired driving charge, and that can lead to temporarily losing your vehicle, losing your driver's license for an indefinite period of time, and pending administrative or even criminal charges that can seriously impact your life.

When headlines appear telling people in and around Calgary saying that many DUI cases are being summarily tossed out, it's understandable that many might see this as a sign for optimism regarding their own impaired driving charges. While these headlines are good news for justice and impaired driving cases generally, which have been a source of some controversy due to questionable laws enacted in Alberta in 2012, this Calgary DUI lawyer thinks it's a little too soon to get your hopes up.

Breathalyzer Maintenance and DUI Charges in Alberta

Under Alberta's impaired driving laws, anyone operating a vehicle on public roads with a BAC (blood alcohol content) above .05 is guilty of an administrative offence, and .08 is guilty of a criminal charge. Both administrative and criminal DUI charges come with automatic penalties that can be imposed immediately upon an arrest, before the accused has a chance to raise a defence.

Clearly, accurately measuring blood alcohol content is an essential part of maintaining justice under these laws and ensuring that Alberta citizens who have been charged with a DUI were actually found to be above the legal limit. An improperly calibrated or otherwise malfunctioning breathalyzer, a device used to measure BAC by having impaired driving suspects blow into the handheld machine, can give inaccurate readings and lead to erroneous impaired driving charges. For this reason, being able to access breathalyzer maintenance records is an important part of a DUI defence case.

The Alberta impaired driving charges that were recently tossed out all involve breathalyzers maintained by a company called Davtech, which has failed to provide maintenance records for units used in at least seventeen cases. While many law enforcement agencies throughout the country use Ottowa-based Davtech as their breathalyzer provider, the Calgary Police do not, they maintain their own breathalyzers, and the dismissal of DUI cases for the Calgary Police's outright failure to provide maintenance records is extremely rare.

The headline and the story behind it are a good sign for justice and demonstrate that law enforcement is being held accountable for its actions and its accusations, but if you're hoping for this to be an effective defence in your own DUI case, don't hold your breath.

Contact a Calgary DUI Lawyer for a Real Impaired Driving Defence

If you or a family member has been charged with a DUI in the Greater Calgary Area, your best bet at putting this case behind you quickly and completely is partnering with an experienced and dedicated Calgary DUI Lawyer. Please contact my office today for a free consultation.