Drunk Driving in Calgary: A Defence Lawyer's Primer

Alberta's, and Calgary's, current DUI laws have been on the books for close to four years now, but many people still aren't aware of exactly what they mean or when they might be at risk for a DUI charge (frankly, you're always at some risk of being charged with a DUI if you're driving a car on Calgary's roads, even if you aren't intoxicated, but we'll talk about law enforcement errors in other post).

As a DUI defence lawyer here in Calgary, I feel it's part of my job to keep people informed of the current legal situation so they can best protect themselves and their rights. To that end, here's a quick fact sheet that breaks down Alberta's impaired driving laws so you can make sure you're always on the right side of them

Q: Can I be charged with impaired driving if I've ingested something other than alcohol?
A: Yes! While many people call impaired driving or DUI laws "drunk driving laws," they cover all kinds of intoxicants. If your ability to operate a vehicle has been compromised, it's illegal for your to drive.

Q: What if it's pharmaceutical drugs I was legally prescribed?
A: Even then, you could find yourself facing an administrative or a criminal charge.

Q: What's the difference between an administrative and a criminal DUI/impaired driving charge?
A: An administrative charge is like a traffic ticket in some ways—it can impact your driving record and result in a fine. Drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .05 and .08 can be charged with an administrative DUI offence.

Criminal DUI charges are far more serious, not only leading to more substantial fines but potentially going to a trial and resulting in a criminal conviction. Drivers with a BAC of .08 or greater can be charged with a criminal DUI.

Q: What are the punishments for impaired driving/DUI convictions in Calgary?
A: For administrative DUI offences, drivers face a license suspension and vehicle seizure. The lengths of the suspension and seizure are determined by how many other DUIs are on your driving record. You'll also be required to attend a safe driving course and likely pay a fine.

For criminal DUI offences, you face a long vehicle seizure, and will also have to attend a safe driving course. Your license suspension can last as long as it takes to resolve your case in the Calgary courts, more than a year, in some extreme cases. You will also face a more substantial fine and could be sentenced to up to a year in jail for repeat offences.

Q: If I've been arrested in Calgary for a DUI, when can I talk to a lawyer?
A: Immediately! If you have been arrested or detained by the Calgary Police for suspicion of a DUI, or if you have already been charged with impaired driving, you are entitled to speak to a knowledgeable Calgary defence lawyer as soon as is practically possible.

Don't delay, call or contact your Calgary defence lawyer today to get the in-person assistance you need!