Impaired Driving

Impaired driving is when your ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired by alcohol or drug.
Penalties for a first offence are:
license suspension (Canada-wide) for an average of one year;
an average $1,500 fine;
higher insurance costs; and,
cross border implications.
Effective Sept. 1, 2012 new legislation pertaining to 0.05BAC (Blood/Breath Alcohol Concentration) resulting in immediate roadside sanctions was implemented. For more information, view the Government of Alberta’s website with information on Bill 26.
How do I report a driver that seems to be impaired?
Call 9-1-1. Do not attempt to follow the driver or place yourself in danger.
How does Calgary Police Service (CPS) police this?
CPS polices impaired driving through regular street enforcement and is one of the only municipalities in North America that has a CHECKSTOP program 52 weeks of the year.
How many impaired driving convictions does CPS handle?
On average, in the Calgary area approximately 2,700 impaired driving charged are laid every year. This number includes those charged with being over .08/impaired as we usually lay both charges as part of the investigation.
Of all the fatality and serious injury collisions investigated in Calgary approximately one-third of the collisions involve an impaired driver.
Drinking and driving puts people’s lives and property at risk, so identifying the signs can help stop drunk drivers before it’s too late.
How much can I drink and still be able to drive?
The only safe level is “0.” Be responsible!
Alcohol affects everyone differently. There are many factors that can increase the effects of alcohol on an individual.
What device do you use to establish how much drink or drugs someone has had?
CPS uses the Alco-Sensor FST as the approved screening device to detect the presence of alcohol and the Intoxilyzer 5000C as the instrument that provides the amount of alcohol in the person’s body.
Drug classification is established through an evaluation of a driver in accordance with the Drug Recognition Evaluation program. This initially includes a Standardized Field Sobriety Testing and if necessary a full evaluation.
Do I have to give a breath sample?
If an officer reads a Criminal Code Demand (screening device or evidential) to a person they are required to provide a breath sample.
What happens if I refuse to give a breath sample?
You will be charged under the Criminal Code for refusing to provide a breath sample which carries the same jeopardy as being charged with impaired driving.
I heard there are ways someone can give a false sample, like smoking, chewing gum, or putting a penny under the tongue. Do they work?
No. The instruments used for investigating impaired driving are designed to detect alcohol, nothing else. All persons providing breath samples will have their mouth checked for foreign objects prior to providing breath samples.
Can you receive an impaired on a bike?
What’s the difference between DUI and DWI?
DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while impaired) are American terms that both have the same meaning of the Canadian term of Impaired Driving.
Can I get an impaired in the morning?
Yes. Alcohol only will eliminate from your body at a certain rate. If you went to bed with a high blood alcohol concentration and didn’t wait for the alcohol to eliminate from your body, you run the chance of still being impaired and if caught being charged.
What is the offence committed if someone is driving under the influence of a drug?
Section 253(1)(a) is the criminal code section that deals with the offence of impaired driving and includes if someone is impaired by a drug.
How is it determined if someone is impaired by a drug?
If an officer has a reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired by a drug the Criminal Code of Canada gives the police the power to demand that a person perform a physical sobriety test at the road side that is conducted by a trained evaluating officer. If the evaluating officer determines the driver is impaired then the driver can be arrested for impaired driving.
If the officer has formed the opinion that a person is impaired by a drug then a Drug Recognition Expert will be called in to determine if the person is impaired and what drug category the person is impaired by.
What is the penalty for impaired driving under the influence of a drug?
The penalties for driving under the influence of a drug are the same as for driving under the influence of alcohol.
What if I refuse to comply with the demand for the field sobriety test or the tests to be performed by a Drug Recognition Expert?
Under section 254(5) of the criminal code you would be charged with refusing to comply and charged criminally, and the consequences would be the same as failing to comply or refusal of a breath demand.
Can I be arrested for driving under the influence of a prescription drug?
Yes. If you are impaired by the prescription drug you can be charged for driving while impaired. Some prescription drugs specifically say not to operate a motor vehicle if you are taking that drug or if it is not being taken as prescribed you could be legally impaired.
Is there a roadside device that can detect drug impairment?
No, drug impairment can only be determined by a properly trained police officer with the use of a Standardized Field Sobriety Test.


Alberta’s Approach to Impaired Driving

On July 1, 2012, Alberta implemented tougher sanctions for graduated drivers licence (GDL) drivers and drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08. On September 1, 2012 tougher sanctions were also implemented for drivers with a BAC of .05. 2014 recorded the fewest number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Alberta. We have seen encouraging decreases in the number of drinking drivers involved in casualty collisions and will continue to work to further reduce these numbers.

Our province’s impaired driving laws aim to reduce the number of drinking drivers on our roads – and that means fewer deaths and serious injuries. Drivers who are criminally impaired or refuse to provide a breath sample will receive the harshest sanctions. Tougher consequences at the .05 to .08 level are designed to discourage drinking and driving – before drivers reach the criminally impaired level. Our goal is to create safer roads by ensuring Albertans take personal responsibility for their actions behind the wheel.

Implemented July 1, 2012
For drivers with blood alcohol over .08:
Criminal charge for BAC over .08, impaired by drugs or alcohol or refusal to provide requested sample(s).
Immediate licence suspension which is sustained until criminal charge is resolved.
1st charge: sustained licence suspension and 3-day vehicle seizure, “Planning Ahead” course.
2nd charge: sustained licence suspension, 7- day vehicle seizure, “Impact” course.
3rd charge: sustained licence suspension, 7-day vehicle seizure, “Impact” course.
Mandatory ignition interlock after criminal conviction – 1 year for 1st conviction; 3 years for 2nd conviction; 5 years for 3rd conviction.
Implemented September 1, 2012
For drivers with Blood Alcohol .05 to .08:
1st offence – Immediate 3-day licence suspension and 3-day vehicle seizure.
2nd offence – Immediate 15-day licence suspension, 7-day vehicle seizure, “Planning Ahead” course.
3rd offence – Immediate 30-day licence suspension, 7-day vehicle seizure, “Impact” course.
Implemented July 1, 2012
For new (GDL) drivers with blood alcohol over .00
GDL driver found with any blood alcohol – Immediate 30-day licence suspension and 7-day vehicle seizure.


Six Tips to Keep Teens from Drinking and Driving that Really Work

It’s no secret that alcohol-related crashes are a leading cause of death for teens, but it could be fear of getting in trouble with their parents that causes them to get behind the wheel. According to a AAA survey, 84% of teens said their friends would drive after drinking rather than calling home for a ride.

ven if your teen doesn’t drive, the risk is real. In the same survey, 22% of teens said they would take a ride from a drunk friend before they called their parents.

So how can you keep your teen from drinking and driving?

  1. Be clear with your teen about your expectations. Let him know that while you don’t condone drinking, you have a “no questions asked” policy if they need a ride, no matter what the circumstances are.
  2. Let your teen’s friends lean on you, too. Let your daughter know she can call you to come get her and her friends, no matter what time of night it is. Her friend’s parents will have to hear the truth eventually, but in the morning once everyone is safe.
  3. Get it in writing. Sober contracts help reinforce the message that it’s never a good choice to drink and drive. Sign one as a family, then have a keychain made out of it. The presence of the contract with the keys will help your teen make the right choice not to drive.
  4. Work with other parents. Your teen may hesitate to call you if he needs a ride, but he might call Ben’s mom instead. If you and Ben’s mom are in this together, you’ll sleep better at night. Plus, when parents agree to supervise parties at their homes and keep the alcohol out, there are fewer opportunities for teens to drink.
  5. Have a back-up plan. Make sure your teen has the number of a taxi company in his or her phone or wallet and emergency cash to pay for the ride.
  6. Keep the lines of communication open. The more freely your teen can speak with you about their troubles, including alcohol, the less likely is it that he or she will get into a troublesome situation.

Source: Unison Health