Impaired Driving Law Changes in Alberta

On behalf of Osuji & Smith posted in Personal Injury on Thursday, April 12, 2018.

Changes to Alberta’s alcohol- and drug-impaired driving offenses and sanctions came into effect April 9, 2018. The Government of Alberta passed An Act to Reduce Cannabis and Alcohol-Impaired Driving which are based on the following:

  • All criminally impaired drivers (drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or over, drivers impaired by drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, and drivers who fail or refuse to comply with a demand for a breath or blood sample) will receive a 90-day licence suspension followed by mandatory participation in a one-year ignition interlock program. Should the driver choose not to participate in ignition interlock, the license suspension will remain in place during this one-year term.
  • These are provincial sanctions. Drivers will continue to be subject to criminal charges and all the associated penalties imposed by the courts, in addition to the provincial consequences.
  • There will be zero tolerance for Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program drivers for cannabis and illegal drugs in the bloodstream, in addition to alcohol. GDL drivers found with any amount of alcohol, cannabis, illegal drugs or their combination will find the driver subject to a 30-day license suspension, seven-day vehicle seizure and a lengthened term in the GDL program. (GDL drivers who meet the requirements for criminal-level impaired driving will be subject to the sanctions and penalties mentioned above.)
  • Updates have been made to the Alberta Transportation Safety Board’s procedures, streamlining their processes. For example, there will be limits on the number of reconsiderations the board is required to hear in the absence of new evidence.
  • Impaired Driving Stats

Impaired Driving Stats

Research from the Canadian Centre of Substance Use and Addiction shows that, on average, cannabis use doubles the risk of being involved in a collision. They found that driving skills are negatively affected after consuming cannabis, including the reduced ability to:

  • track moving objects
  • respond to more than one source of information
  • respond to sudden changes in a increases driving environment

The risk of collision greatly increases if cannabis is consumed with alcohol. Mixing alcohol and drugs such as cannabis significantly increase impairment. In Alberta:

24.1% of all road fatalities involved a driver who tested positive for both alcohol and drugs in 2013
389 people were killed and 5,969 people injured in alcohol-related collisions between 2013 and 2015

Sources: 1) Impaired driving law changes, April 9, 2018. The Government of Alberta Services and Information. 2) Alberta strengthens impaired driving laws, March 2018. Media Inquiries. John Archer.

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