Uber, Drunk Driving, and Safety on Calgary Streets: Part 1

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You don't need an experienced Calgary DUI defence lawyer to tell you that driving while drunk or otherwise intoxicated is a bad idea—at least, you shouldn't. The evidence that driving while intoxicated is more dangerous for you and for everyone else on the road is overwhelming and unambiguous, and you've heard about it from a number of government officials and public health advocacy groups for years.

When you're intoxicated by alcohol—even if you're just "buzzed"—your response time is slower, your judgment regarding risks and your ability to control your vehicle is impaired, and your sensory awareness is drastically reduced. These factors combine to make it far more likely for you to cause a serious collision that can result in injuries, property damage, and even fatalities.

The drive to keep everyone in Calgary and throughout the province of Alberta safe is one of the reasons our DUI laws became more stringent in recent years, including the establishment of criminal charges for DUIs involving a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over .08. This criminal DUI charge can also come with automatic penalties from the moment an arrest is made or charges are laid, including the immediate seizure of your vehicle and suspension of your driver's license, before you have even had a trial. These penalties are also meant to increase public safety by keeping impaired drivers off the road, but sometimes the law might go too far.

A Calgary "Dragon" Weighs in On Over-Prudent Legislation

Several constitutional challenges have been raised against parts of Alberta's tough new DUI laws, including the provision that establishes automatic penalties. While the law strives to improve public health and safety—a laudable goal, to be sure—some have suggested that it does so by sacrificing civil liberties such as the presumption of innocence that is supposed to be a sacrosanct part of our criminal justice system (the right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law is even enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).

A far less pressing yet related issue has recently been making headlines throughout Calgary—that of Uber drivers and the public safety concerns of Calgary citizens using the taxi-like service to connect with drivers who might not have adequate insurance and don't have to meet the same certification criteria as other taxi operators in the city. Calgarian and panelist/investor on the show Dragon's Den, Michele Romanow, recently wrote an opinion piece regarding Uber's cold reception in Calgary, and it touches on similar concerns regarding the struggle between freedom and safety—and raises some interesting points about drunk driving reduction, as well.

A Calgary DUI Lawyer's Take on the Uber Controversy

You can read more about Romanow's opinion on the laws preventing Uber from operating in Calgary and my own thoughts on the how this relates to DUIs in Part Two of this article. In the meantime, if you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI in Calgary, please contact my office for a free initial consultation.

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