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Alberta Updates Impaired Driving Legislation

One week after new Alberta impaired driving laws came into effect, an impaired driver killed a 16-year old Edmonton girl, crossing the street, in a marked crosswalk. Bill C-46, or Alberta Administrative License Suspension, imposes a two-stage suspension on drivers caught driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

An Edmonton-based lawyer has been charged with impaired driving causing death in the fatal hit and run. The accused driver has a history of impaired driving charges—something the victim’s friends and family hope harsher penalties will address.

Bill C-46 combats impaired driving, while preparing for the late 2018 legalization of cannabis. The amendments to the Traffic Safety Act address previous obstacles, through the implementation of a two-staged fixed-term license suspension, applicable to drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or over, who are impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two, or refuse to provide a breath sample.

In the first stage, the driver is subject to a 90-day driving suspension where they are prohibited to drive at all. The second stage that follows is a one-year driving suspension, in which the driver may be eligible to participate in Alberta’s Ignition Interlock Program. If the driver refuses to participate in the interlock program, they face the mandatory one-year license suspension on top of the 90 days already served. Additional consequences involve vehicle seizures and participation in driving courses. Drivers who test over 0.08 BAC will also be subject to criminal charges.

Andrew Murie, CEO of MADD Canada, believes the new laws impact the way people drink and drastically change how they drink before they drive. The changes to Alberta’s impaired driving laws cover not only the legalization of cannabis and the possible effects it has on drivers, but also seeks harsher administrative penalties for those who continue to drink and drive.

Bill C-46 limits the ability of the accused to get behind the wheel again through costly Ignition Interlock measures at the driver’s expense, while maintaining their constitutional rights. The Ignition Interlock Program is zero tolerance, meaning drivers do not have the choice to drink and drive. This non-negotiable consequence forces proactive planning for drivers, before they get behind the wheel.

According to Alberta Transportation, one in five drivers involved in a fatal collision had been drinking prior to the incident. In 2015, 85 people were killed and another 1,042 were injured due to impaired driving. This accounts for 26% of traffic related fatalities for the year, all of which were likely preventable.

While it is widely understood that Vision Zero is a systems-based shift in mindset for city planners and lawmakers, it is clear that the framework still needs adoption and support at the individual level. The Government of Alberta has taken measures to ensure the safety of all Albertans. Help contribute to safer Alberta roads by making the responsible decision. Don’t drink and drive.