Impaired Driving

By Jan Creaser

Driving While Impaired

• If the police determine that your ability to drive a vehicle has been impaired by alcohol or drugs, even if your Blood Alcohol Reading is below 80 mg per 100 mL blood, you can be charged with impaired driving.

• Refusing to provide a breath sample can result in a criminal code conviction.

• It is possible to be convicted of impaired driving with a blood alcohol content below .08. The consequences are the same for those convicted with a BAC over .08.

The Law

On December 1, 1999, the Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension became law. AALS is a law that aims to get drunk drivers off the roads sooner and for longer periods of time.

• Any driver who is charged with having a breath or blood sample over 0.08 per cent blood alcohol content, or refusing demand, will receive an automatic three-month suspension.

• A driver who causes bodily harm or death will receive an automatic, on-the-spot six-month suspension, and likely more severe charges (e.g., vehicular manslaughter).

• Individuals holding a valid Alberta driver’s licence are granted a 21-day temporary permit before their suspension begins. This permit is intended so drivers can get their affairs in order before the suspension.

• A first-time offence automatically results in a one-year licence suspension.

• A second-time offence results in a three-year suspension.

• A third-time offence results a five-year suspension.

• Drivers convicted of impaired driving causing injury or death receive a mandatory five-year suspension, whether or not it is a first, second or third offence.

The Consequences of Impaired Driving (if convicted)

• A criminal record.

• Financial costs include increased insurance costs, legal expenses, fines, fees, and alternate transportation costs.

• A conviction might affect your employment and your reputation.

• If you drive while your licence is suspended, you may be fined or sent to jail, and six months will be added to your suspension.

• The vehicle you were operating, regardless of who owns it, will be seized and impounded for 30 days.

Source: Driver Safety, Research and Traffic Safety Initiative Website and its Director Jeanette Espie-Lefebvre.

Alternatives to Drinking and Driving

• Take a cab home.

• Appoint or be a designated driver.

• Go to an establishment within walking distance of your house.

• At parties, plan to stay overnight if you want to drink and don’t have a ride home.

• Don’t drink.

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