The ABCs of BAC in Calgary Impaired Driving Cases

There have been several news stories of late regarding BAC measuring devices known as breathalyzers, including a prominent story that concerned some overturned impaired driving convictions or dismissed DUI cases as a result of improper maintenance records. Because these stories have caused something of a stir here in Calgary, this defence lawyer thought she'd speak up with some quick facts.

First, you should know what "BAC" means and why it matters. BAC stands for "blood alcohol content," and the DUI laws in Alberta establish two thresholds for BAC. Drivers operating a vehicle on Calgary streets with a BAC of .05 or greater, but less than .08, face and administrative charge. Drivers with a BAC of .08 or greater face a far more serious criminal charge.

Second, though faulty breathalyzer units or improper maintenance records have called some DUI cases and convictions into question, relatively few those cases originated with stops made by the Calgary Police. The breathalyzers in the contested cases were all maintained by private companies contracted by law enforcement agencies. The Calgary Police maintain their own breathalyzer devices, though I have handled cases in my work as a Calgary DUI defence lawyer where missing or improper maintenance records for a Calgary Police BAC-measuring device worked in the accused's favor, such cases are rare.

Third, and finally, all Calgary drivers should be aware that crossing the BAC threshold isn't the only way to get an impaired driving ticket. If you are intoxicated by any substance, alcohol or not, and are operating a vehicle on Calgary's streets and highways, you can be charged with a DUI, and you're also putting yourself and those around you in danger.

Don't look for ways around Calgary's DUI laws. Be safe. Drive sober.