New Provincial Impaired Rules – First Time Offenders

New rules for impaired driving, also known as “DUIs”, came into effect in Alberta on December 1, 2020.

There are important changes to note for a first-time impaired offender. Unlike before, a first-time offender will no longer receive any criminal charges. Instead, you will face penalties under the provincial transportation system.

Generally, on your first occasion of impaired driving you will receive a $1000 fine, a mandatory driving education course, your car will be seized for 30 days, a 90 day licence suspension, and another 12 months after that where you may only drive with the use of an ignition interlock, otherwise known as a blow box. You may receive a smaller/lesser fine, licence suspension, and vehicle seizure if your blood alcohol content is below 0.08 but over 0.05.

Criminal charges may only arise for first time offenders if there was resulting bodily harm or death from the driving, or if the impairment is excessive.

The idea behind these changes is to free up court time and resources and to deter potential drunk drivers through stiff penalties and consequences that are meaningful and really impact their life.

First time offenders avoiding criminal charges is of course beneficial (avoiding a potential criminal record and saving money on lawyer fees to fight charges in court). You will only have to deal with the provincial transportation system alone instead of both the courts for criminal charges, and the fees and tasks required/associated with the provincial transportation system.

The other very real impact these changes will have is the denial of rights afforded to persons having to proceed through the provincial transportation system. There are no checks and balances, nor the ability to ensure that a person’s rights are not violated by police. The expectation is that this new legislation will be challenged in court.