The Consequences of DUI and Impaired Driving in Edmonton

Impaired driving continues to be a widespread public safety concern in Canada. Death by impaired driving is among the leading causes of traffic fatalities and wrongful death generally. As such, penalties imposed under Canadian and provincial laws for driving impaired have become increasingly strict over time.


Impaired driving continues to be a widespread public safety concern in Canada. Death by impaired driving is among the leading causes of traffic fatalities and wrongful death generally. As such, penalties imposed under Canadian and provincial laws for driving impaired have become increasingly strict over time.

Penalties Under the Criminal Code of Canada


The Criminal Code makes it an offence for a person to be “in care and control” of a motor vehicle, (a) with a BAC of 0.08 or above, or (b) while impaired.


Driving with a BAC above 0.08, or while otherwise impaired (i.e., by drugs or other reason), attracts a minimum fine of $1,000 on a first offence, a minimum imprisonment of 30 days on a second offence, and a minimum imprisonment of 120 days on a third offence.

Where impaired driving causes bodily harm, the offender may be imprisoned up to 10 years. Where the impaired driving causes death, the offender may imprisoned up to life.


Penalties Under Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act


In addition to the penalties imposed under the Criminal Code, drivers are subject to penalties under Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act, even where their BAC is below 0.08.

A novice driver with a BAC above 0 may be subject to an immediate 7-day vehicle seizure and 30-day licence suspension. A fully licensed driver with a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08 is subject to an immediate three day licence suspension and three day vehicle seizure. For subsequent offences, an extended license suspension, seven day vehicle seizure, and requirements for the driver to take an alcohol education course may ensue.

If your BAC is over 0.08 or you refuse to provide a breath sample in Edmonton, you may face a sustained license suspension, three day vehicle seizure and alcohol education course requirement on your first offence, in addition to criminal charges. For subsequent offences, a sustained license suspension, seven day vehicle seizure, and extended coursework may be required. Use of an ignition interlock is required for a year if you are criminally convicted on a first offence, for three years for a second offence, and for five years for a third or subsequent offence.


Additional Consequences of Violating Either the Traffic Safety Act or the Criminal Code


Beyond the consequences imposed by the Criminal Code and the Traffic Safety Act, an impaired driving conviction can cause serious consequences and affects one’s life in other significant ways. Job applications, particularly those that require driving, and roles in banking, schools, and law enforcement, will require a criminal background check to be completed. No doubt, a person who shows an impaired driving conviction on his or her background check will be at a disadvantage, either because of a company policy that prohibits hiring any person with an impaired conviction, or simply because of the negative perception associated with it, including in jobs that entail working with or caring for children. Or, if your job entails travel into the U.S., you could face difficulties passing through the border. In some cases, a conviction may warrant dismissal from a currently held job.

Although an impaired driving conviction may not directly affect your ability to obtain a mortgage or loan, financial consequences of being convicted of an impaired driving charge can indirectly affect your credit. If your vehicle is impounded, you are required to pay a towing and daily impoundment fee. There is also a fee associated with the mandatory coursework required under the Traffic Safety Act. If you lose your job, this will affect your income and ability to save and pay off debts. Further, increased insurance rates will almost certainly ensue for several years, even once you are able to drive again.

Another serious consequence of an impaired driving conviction is that a criminal record is permanent. Although an application can be made to suppress the information on a criminal record for the purpose of background checks only (the police will always have access to it), these applications are not always successful, and such an application can only be made after five years. In a similar vein, convictions under the Traffic Safety Act will be kept on record for 10 years and accessible by police for the purposes of assessing penalties and potential charges in future instances of traffic violations.


Examples of Penalties Imposed in Alberta

There is a wide degree of variability in sentencing of impaired driving causing bodily harm and impaired driving causing death and this is because of the wide variety of circumstances in relation to the offences and the offenders. In R. v. VanBeek, 2014 ABPC 226, the accused pled guilty and was convicted of two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm. At the time of the offences, the accused, Mr. VanBeek, was already subject to a driving prohibition relating to a previous conviction. In addition to a 16-month prison sentence, Mr. VanBeek was prohibited driving for five years subsequent to his release from prison, and subsequent to completion of the previous driving prohibition.

In R. v. McIlwrick, 2008 ABQB 724, the accused, Mr. McIlwrick, was convicted of two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm and two counts of impaired driving causing death. In addition to serving more than 46 months in combined custody and prison time, Mr. McIlwrick was prohibited from driving for a full decade after his release from prison. This lengthy prohibition was partly due to having a prior conviction and Mr. McIlwrick’s failure to take any steps to address his alcohol and drug dependency.


Contact Haryett & Company for an Impaired Driving Hiring Lawyer in Edmonton


If you are charged with impaired driving in Edmonton, a qualified criminal defence lawyer will be able to review the circumstances of your case with you. Our DUI lawyers in Edmonton will help to determine whether any procedural error occurred or if there was a breach of your Charter rights that may result in the charges being stayed. Your lawyer will also be able to advise you about the plea that is recommended based on the evidence and circumstances. Your Edmonton lawyer will also aid in reaching the best resolution possible or arguing for a sentence that minimizes life-hindering long-term penalties, including driving prohibitions.

If you are charged with offences under the Traffic Safety Act, an Edmonton DUI lawyer can also assist you. Your lawyer can assess whether there are adequate grounds to appeal any administrative penalties imposed. Contact us, Haryett & Company, for your free consultation at 780-426-5317.


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