Will a DUI Defence Become IMPOSSIBLE in Calgary? Part 1
If you've read this blog at all, you know I'm no fan of the new impaired driving or "DUI" (driving under the influence) laws Alberta enacted back in 2012. While I appreciate the stated intention of keeping us safe and while I encourage everyone to stay off the roads if they've had anything to drink or taken any other mind-altering substance this law went too far, and for too little effect.
According to the federal government, rates of impaired driving/DUI had already dropped significantly in Alberta during the 25 or so years immediately prior to the law's enactment. There is no substantial evidence that Alberta's 2012 DUI laws did anything to further reduce rates of impaired driving in Calgary or anywhere else in the province. Worse still, many Calgary defence lawyers and other legal scholars believe the law is in violation of Charter-protected rights.
Calgary DUI Laws are a Threat to Civil Liberty
Most egregiously, the DUI laws in effect in Calgary and throughout Alberta all but entirely do away with the presumption of innocence the Charter-protected right to be assumed innocent of a crime until you have had a chance to defend yourself in court. With impaired driving charges, disruptive and expensive penalties can begin from the moment you are arrested and/or charged on suspicion of a DUI.
If a Calgary Police officer or other law enforcement agent simply believes that you are under the influence of alcohol or another substance, you can be arrested on the spot, have your vehicle seized, and possibly even have your license suspended until your case is resolved, something that can take a year or longer! The Calgary Police are also allowed to set up "DUI Check Stops," where all drivers are stopped and possibly subjected to sobriety tests without any cause. To many, this seems a flagrant violation of the right to remain secure from unreasonable searches.
And all of this takes place, of course, before you're ever given the opportunity to speak with a lawyer. You can go from driving your car perfectly legally to being under arrest, having a suspended license and an impounded car, and facing a year-long legal battle with the stigma of a DUI all before you're given your Charter-guaranteed right to consult with a Calgary defence lawyer. The added powers and increased punishments of Alberta's DUI laws are no joke, and there's no such thing as a "minor" impaired driving charge: any charge can have a significant impact on your future.
To make matters worse, new federal legislation has been proposed that could see your rights scaled back even more significantly. Read about it in Part 2 of this article.
Contact a Calgary DUI Defence Lawyer Today
If you've been charged with a DUI or impaired driving in the Greater Calgary Area, your best chance at protecting your rights is to contact an experienced DUI defence lawyer immediately! For a free initial consultation, please contact my office today.