How Various Impaired Driving Charges Are Defined In Alberta

In Alberta, impaired driving is defined just as it is everywhere else in the country, because criminal law is standard across Canada.

There are basically 4 categories of alcohol-related driving offenses under the Criminal Code. There is operating the motor vehicle while your ability to do so is impaired by alcohol. Then there is operating a motor vehicle while your blood alcohol level is in excess of the level allowed by law. The level is 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. This is sometimes known as “.08”. Then there is having the care or control of the motor vehicle while your ability is impaired or while your blood alcohol level is in excess of that allowed by law.

Then there is the category of refusals. Under certain circumstances, the police have the right to demand that a person supply a breath sample into either an approved screening device or a roadside test. In other circumstances, the police can demand a breath sample into an evidentiary device like a Breathalyzer or an Intoxilyzer and refusing to do that – being faced with a lawful demand and refusing – carries the same penalty as impaired driving. So when a person has been stopped or is being investigated by the police in relation to an alcohol-based driving offense, generally, the best policy is to comply with the directions of the police because if you refuse to provide a breath sample and if the police have the proper grounds to demand it, you have lost an opportunity to potentially be found innocent. If your blood alcohol level was below where it should be and moreover, you have also committed an offense of refusing to comply with a lawful demand, then that offense carries the same penalty as impaired driving. So you are certainly no better off by having refused.

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If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in the Edmonton, Alberta Region, contact Moreau & Company for a consultation.

This information is taken from an interview from December 6, 2007 with Paul Moreau LL.B., Criminal Lawyer with Moreau & Company,Edmonton Criminal Lawyers. The article is provided as an information service only and should not be used as legal advice. Laws vary by jurisdiction so please consult with an appropriate legal professional if you are looking for help with a specific situation.