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Impaired Driving, DWI, and DUI

Impaired Driving & DUI Lawyers Serving Edmonton & Alberta

Have you been charged with or accused of impaired driving in Alberta? Our experienced lawyers can help inform you of your legal rights and even help you get your license back.

Contact our lawyers today to book your consultation.

What Is A DUI?

Driving under the influence (DUI), sometimes referred to as impaired driving or driving while impaired (DWI), is the term used for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (blood alcohol concentration), drugs (blood drug concentration), or both.

DUI or impaired driving charges are common in Canada and Alberta and are constantly changing, making it one of the most complicated criminal law practice areas. Our criminal lawyers at Bottos Law Group have strong experience defending these cases in Edmonton and across Alberta.

The most common impaired driving offences we see are:

  • Impaired driving, operating a motor vehicle with either a blood/alcohol content above .08.
  • Impaired driving, operating a motor vehicle with a blood/drug concentration over 5 nanograms of THC.
  • A combination of an alcohol level over .05 and 2 nanograms of THC.
  • A refusal to provide a breath or fluid sample.

Sometimes, there are also charges for dangerous or reckless driving. The law in this area has recently been made more strict. Police officers can require you to provide a roadside sample at any time. Police officers can also charge you with impaired driving after you have stopped driving, or if you are in care and control of a vehicle.

Consequences Of Impaired Driving

Conviction for any impaired driving offence, even for a first offence, carries with it:

  • A hefty fine
  • Licence suspension
  • Driving prohibition of at least one year

There are more serious offences under the Criminal Code, where an accused can be charged with impaired driving, dangerous driving, or criminal negligence causing bodily harm or death. Jail sentences typically result from conviction. The consequences for any of these offences are significant. They include:

  • Immediate loss of licence at roadside, 90 day suspension and 12 months on an ignition interlock program
  • Fines and/or jail sentences
  • Loss of driver’s licence for a period of at least one year
  • Large increases in automobile insurance premiums
  • A criminal record

You may have a limited time to contact a lawyer after you have been charged in order to preserve all of your rights, so be sure to get in touch with a lawyer you can trust as soon as possible.

2020 Changes To Impaired Driving Laws In Alberta

As of December 1, 2020, Peace Officers in Alberta have statutory authority to charge a suspected impaired driver under the Traffic Safety Act, rather than laying charges through the Criminal Code of Canada. If you are charged as a suspected impaired driver under the Traffic Safety Act, you have only 7 days from the date of the incident to file an appeal of your licence suspension.

If the accused is a repeat offender or is alleged to have caused bodily harm or injury, the officer will lay criminal charges in addition to provincial penalties.

If an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a driver has committed a driving offence, the driver will receive an administrative penalty, known as IRS-Fail.

What is the penalty for impaired driving in Alberta?

Based on the new 2020 changes to impaired driving laws, the penalty for impaired driving in Alberta is:

  • An IRS-Fail — an immediate roadside suspension — under the Traffic Safety Act
  • A 15-month suspension of a driver’s license
  • Eligibility for ignition interlock device (i.e. blow box) after 90 days
  • A 30-day vehicle seizure
  • A fine between $1,000 and $2,000 in addition to 30% Victim Fine Surcharge
  • A mandatory attendance of impaired driving education course

Proving An Impaired Driving Charge

Proof of an impaired driving charge requires the Crown to call evidence, usually from police investigators, of the state of sobriety of an alleged impaired driver.

Proving a charge of operating a blood/alcohol concentration of over .08, or a blood/drug concentration over 5 nanograms of THC, is much more complicated. This is a very highly technical area of the law, and it is constantly changing.

If you are charged with either of these offences, typically you have blown into a breath-testing device or provided a fluid sample at the police station, and you have produced a sample in excess of the legal limits. The breath sample, for example, will be depicted on a Certificate of Analysis; the Crown must surmount many technical hurdles before the Certificate of Analysis can be entered into evidence at a trial. Because of the technical nature of the law, it is important that you have an impaired driving lawyer.

Refusal to blow, or to provide a fluid sample, is essentially a failure or a refusal to provide a breath or blood sample when a police officer has lawfully demanded that you do so. It is an offence to refuse a roadside breath test or fluid sample. It is nearly always advisable to provide a breath or fluid sample when a demand is given. Refusal cases are often more difficult to defend than a charge of operating over .08 blood/alcohol concentration or a blood/drug concentration over 5 nanograms of THC.

Looking For An Impaired Driving, DUI, Or DWI Lawyer In Edmonton Or Alberta?

If you are charged with an impaired driving offence in Edmonton or the surrounding area, call our criminal lawyers at 780-421-7001. We will fight for you, and we get results.

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Is impaired driving a criminal offence in Alberta?
  • Yes, if you are considered a repeat offender or have caused injury or bodily harm, you will be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada in addition to the Provincial legislation (the Traffic Safety Act).

How do I get my license back after a DUI charge in Alberta?
  • Whether the license suspension is through the Criminal Code of Canada or the Traffic Safety Act, the driver will receive a Notice of Suspension which identifies the length of a suspension and the conditions which must be met in order to get their license back.

    The conditions may include:

    Once the necessary conditions are met, Driver Fitness and Monitoring will contact the driver to indicate eligibility to operate a motor vehicle. The driver will then be required to pay a license reinstatement fee and retake the road test.

How quickly can I get my licence back if I plead guilty or am found guilty of impaired driving?
  • An accused person may begin driving as soon as 3-5 months after an impaired driving charge. A client may install an ignition interlock device after 90 days of being charged and can apply for a specialized license that allows them to drive said vehicle. This means that an accused person may begin driving through IIP before their legal matters formally resolve.

    However, there are fees to install, rent and remove the ignition interlock device and the full license cannot be reinstated until the necessary conditions are met, including the driving suspension.

How long does a suspended license stay on your record in Alberta?
  • A suspended license can stay on your record for up to 10 years. For a criminal conviction, the suspension will remain on criminal record unless the driver seeks a record suspension (colloquially referred to as pardon). However, a record suspension does not erase the offence, neither does it guarantee entry into other countries.

What is the cost of one impaired driving conviction?
  • The total cost of an impaired driving conviction includes the additional license reinstatement fees, fines of at least $1,000, legal fees, and other fees surrounding the required courses and programs such as the Ignition Interlock Program.

Is impaired driving an indictable offence in Canada? What about Alberta?
  • Yes, impaired driving can be prosecuted summarily (invites a lesser punishment) or through indictment. If you are alleged to have caused bodily harm or death of another person due to impaired driving, the charges will be prosecuted through indictment. Indictment is taken more seriously by Prosecutors and Court resulting in higher penalties including jail time.

How long do you lose your license for a DUI in Alberta?
  • A driver is suspended from driving for at least 90 days after a DUI charge, and then will be subject to a further driving suspension of at least 12 months (although they can apply for interlock after 90 days).

Can you go to jail for a DUI in Alberta?
  • Yes, the Canadian government and our Courts take impaired driving very seriously. If a driver has previous impaired driving convictions on their record there is a minimum punishment of 30 days in jail. This will apply even if no one was injured or if no property was damaged.

How long does a DUI affect your insurance in Alberta?
  • An impaired driving conviction can affect your insurance rates for many years depending on the different policies.

Should I get a lawyer for my first DUI?
  • Yes, you should absolutely get a lawyer for your first DUI. A lawyer will review the case against you and provide legal advice and representation on your behalf before the Court or Administrative Tribunal. A lawyer can also assess all possible defences, including whether there was Charter infringing conduct by the investigating officers.

Can a first time DUI charge be dismissed?
  • No. While there may be possible defences available, there is no process for a first time impaired charge to be dismissed by virtue of it being the first time or otherwise having a good driving history.