According to Alberta Criminal Defence Lawyers, drivers have a lot more to worry about if they are caught driving while impaired after December 1, 2020. This is the date when impaired driving laws changed as outlined in Bill 21, the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act. In fact, you can face fines as high as $2,000 and having your vehicle seized for up to 30 days.

If you are a repeat offender, you face even bigger problems when caught driving under the influence again. You will have to attend a mandatory education program and have an ignition interlock device installed on your personal vehicle.

While the new measures sound tough, they are designed to save lives, reduce police hours spent enforcing drunk driving laws and free up the courts for other types of cases. Impaired driving accidents cause too many injuries and fatalities each year in Alberta. This is the main reason for the new zero-tolerance policies for commercial and novice drivers, as well.

 

Key Changes to Alberta’s Driving Laws Under Bill 21

Some of the key changes to Alberta’s impaired driving laws include introduction of a new Immediate Roadside Sanction program. This program provides immediate consequences for drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs. Under this immediate sanctioning, drivers face fines of up to $2,000 and vehicle seizure for up to 30 days. Repeat offenders face increased driver’s licence suspensions, mandatory ignition interlock device on personal vehicles and mandatory educational program attendance.

Under the changes, Albertans can more easily pay and dispute tickets online. They can also use the online system to request more time to pay their fines. These changes, in particular, help free up police and the court system for more serious issues. Also under the law, commercial and novice drivers now face zero-tolerance consequences for driving while impaired.

 

Five Categories of Impaired Driving Sanctions

There are five categories of impaired driving sanctions that are now streamlined under the changing laws. These are the Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS) that include:

24-Hour IRS

  • 24-hour driver’s licence suspension
  • Possible 24-hour vehicle seizure

 

Zero IRS: Novice (formerly called AZADT)

These sanctions apply for any alcohol detected roadside using an approved screening device.

  • 30-day AALS license suspension
  • Seven-day vehicle seizure
  • $200 fine
  • To emerge from the program, drivers cannot experience another suspension for one year from the suspension end date; otherwise, the year begins again

 

Zero IRS: Commercial

First-time offender sanctions:

  • Three-day driver’s licence suspension
  • $300 fine

Second-time offender sanctions:

  • 15-day driver’s licence suspension
  • $600 fine

Third-time offender sanctions:

  • 30-day driver’s licence suspension
  • $1,200 fine

 

WARN IRS

The following sanctions apply for roadside warning detection using an approved screening device.

First-time offender sanctions:

  • Three-day driver’s licence suspension
  • Three-day vehicle seizure
  • $300 fine

Second-time offender sanctions:

  • 15-day driver’s licence suspension
  • Seven-day vehicle seizure
  • $600 fine
  • Driver educational Crossroads Course

Third-time offender sanctions:

  • 30-day driver’s licence suspension
  • Seven-day vehicle seizure
  • $1,200 fine
  • Driver two-day Impact Course

 

FAIL IRS

The following sanctions apply for roadside failure detection using an approved screening device, when the driver is impaired, or if the driver refuses to blow. However, officers can now decide to not proceed with Criminal Code charges in the absence of aggravating circumstances. Such aggravating circumstances include a collision causing injuries or fatalities, children in the vehicle, blatant disregard for public safety or another recent impaired driving charge.

First-time offender sanctions:

  • 90-day driver’s licence suspension
  • One year ignition interlock device use on personal vehicles or continued suspension of licence for one year
  • 30-day vehicle seizure
  • $1,000 fine
  • Mandatory attendance of the Planning Ahead course

Second-time offender sanctions:

  • Criminal Code charges
  • 90-day driver’s licence suspension
  • Three-year ignition interlock device use on personal vehicles or continued suspension of licence for three years
  • 30-day vehicle seizure
  • $2,000 fine

Third-time offender sanctions:

  • Criminal Code charges
  • 90-day driver’s licence suspension
  • Lifetime ignition interlock device use on personal vehicles with 10-year faint hope clause if incident-free for 10 years
  • 30-day vehicle seizure
  • $2,000 fine

 

Know Your Rights

You can request a second test with a new kit during your initial roadside test. You can also appeal the program or your AALS license suspension lasting more than seven days. Knowing these rights and how to reduce your outstanding penalties is very important when facing charges under the Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension program. Your first step should be to call an experienced DUI defence lawyer.