Alberta's approach to impaired driving
Our province’s impaired driving laws aim to reduce the number of impaired drivers on our roads – and that means fewer deaths and serious injuries. Alberta has seen encouraging decreases in the number of impaired drivers involved in casualty collisions and will continue to work to further reduce these numbers. During 2016, 57 people were killed in alcohol-related collisions—this is down 16.2% from the previous record low of 68 in 2014, and down 32.9% from 2015.
The federal government is responsible for the Criminal Code of Canada, in which there are a number of transportation-related offences, including impaired driving. Federal penalties for impaired driving can include licence suspension, fines, jail time and participation in an ignition interlock program.
All Canadian jurisdictions, including Alberta, have provincial sanctions that apply to impaired driving, in addition to the criminal penalties imposed by the courts.
Alberta has four impaired driving sanction programs, designed to immediately remove impaired drivers from the road and deter impaired driving.
Applies to all drivers, including those in the Graduated Driver Licensing Program, who have:
- a blood alcohol concentration over .08 per cent (or 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood)
- a blood drug concentration over 2 nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood
- a combination of 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitre of blood + 2.5 nanograms or more of THC per one millilitre of blood.
- refused or failed to provide a breath or fluid sample
Drivers are subject to an immediate fixed term driving suspension, consisting of two parts:
- a 90-day licence suspension where the suspended driver is unable to drive under any circumstances
- a further one-year driving suspension where the suspended driver may be eligible to drive on the condition that they participate in an Ignition Interlock program. If they choose not to participate, they will remain suspended during this one-year term with no ability to drive to legally.
Drivers will also be subject to remedial education courses and:
- a 3-day vehicle seizure for the first offence
- a 7-day vehicle seizure for second and subsequent offences
More information about federal alcohol and drug limits, can be found on the Government of Canada’s impaired driving webpage.
Applies to drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .05 to .08. (Does not apply to drivers in the Graduated Driver Licensing Program—they are subject to the sanctions of the Zero Tolerance program for blood alcohol or drug concentrations below criminal limits.)
Drivers are subject to the following immediate sanctions:
- First offence - Immediate 3-day Driver’s Licence Suspension and 3-day vehicle seizure.
- Second offence - Immediate 15-day Driver’s Licence Suspension, 7-day vehicle seizure, and completion of the “Planning Ahead” Course.
- Third offence - Immediate 30-day Driver’s Licence Suspension, 7-day vehicle seizure, and completion of the “IMPACT” Program.
Applies to new drivers in the two-year Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program.
Drivers found with any amount of alcohol, cannabis or illegal drugs in their bloodstream, higher than zero, but lower than the criminal limits, are subject to the following immediate sanctions for first and subsequent offences:
- 30-day licence suspension
- 7-day vehicle seizure
GDL drivers must remain suspension free for the last year to exit the GDL program.
Applies to all drivers that are suspected of being impaired by a alcohol, drugs or a physical or medical condition. This program allows peace officers who may not be authorized to conduct an impaired driving investigation to remove suspected impaired drivers from the road immediately, as well as drivers suspected of being impaired by fatigue or other physical conditions.
Drivers are subject to the following immediate sanction:
- immediate 24-hour licence suspension
Note: Drivers that receive a 24-hour suspension for medical reasons may have their file reviewed by Alberta Transportation’s Driver Fitness and Monitoring to determine their fitness to drive.