Missing Maintenance Records and Impaired Driving in Calgary
Recently, there have been cases in Alberta where those charged with drunk driving have seen their cases dismissed or charges lessened. This unusual circumstance has arisen because the companies responsible for maintenance on breath alcohol analysis machines or "breathalyzers" have failed to turn over the maintenance records for those machines.
While this may seem like good news for those who have been subjected to a breath alcohol test in Calgary, it's important to note that the Calgary Police handle their own breathalyzer maintenance. Those charged with impaired driving in Calgary will likely not see any change to their cases because of these recent developments.
Calgary's Impaired Driving Laws
The laws governing impaired driving or DUI (driving under the influence) in Calgary changed in 2012. The changes established criminal charges for some impaired driving offences. New penalties for breaking these laws were also put into place. Between the new criminal DUI charges and their attendant penalties, the thought was that more Calgary drivers would be deterred from driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Part of the changes included giving law enforcement officers the authority to set up impaired driving checkstops. These checkstops, which are also sometimes referred to as DUI checkpoints, are an opportunity for law enforcement officers to stop any driver going through the checkpoint and demand their identification. Whether or not the officer believes the driver to be impaired, the officer may require the driver to submit to a breath alcohol analysis, also known as a breathalyzer test.
If the driver is found to be intoxicated, the penalties can go into effect immediately, before the case has even been through Calgary's courts. Given that improper maintenance records have called breathalyzer evidence into question and even led to some cases being overturned, these automatic penalties seem especially unfair. Yet Calgary drivers can and have had their licenses suspended for a breathalyzer test above the criminal threshold BAC of .08.
Consequences of a Calgary DUI
If you are suspected of impaired driving, your vehicle may be seized and impounded as soon as the breathalyzer test is completed. Additionally, your driver's license may be suspended from the moment of your arrest until your case is heard in court. Due to the nature of Calgary's court system, you could be without your driver's license for an extended period, up to a year or more, even before you've had a chance to plead your case.
Choosing a Criminal Defence Lawyer
Being charged under Calgary's DUI laws can be a harrowing experience. You may face a range of consequences imposed by the legal system and due to the practical difficulties of losing your vehicle and license. In order to build the strongest possible defence against impaired driving charges, it's important to enlist the help of a criminal defence lawyer who understands the Calgary courts.
I have been defending the people of Calgary against impaired driving charges for years, and work hard to provide the support you need during your case. I understand that Calgary's impaired driving laws may result in unfair penalties that affect your life. Contact my office today for a free initial consultation.