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Criminal Code (Canada) Charges for impaired driving-Questions and Answers

 
Changes to Impaired Driving Laws
Changes to the Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension Program
Criminal Code (Canada) Charges for Impaired Driving
Driver’s Licence Suspension
Vehicle Seizure
Appeals
Ignition Interlock Program
Remedial / Educational Courses
Alberta Transportation Safety Board

Changes to Impaired Driving Laws

Why are impaired driving laws changing?

In April 2017, the Government of Canada introduced legislation that will legalize the use and possession of non-medical cannabis in Canada (Bill C-45), and make changes to federal impaired driving laws (Bill C-46), in the Criminal Code (Canada).

These federal changes include three new impaired driving offences specific to cannabis, cannabis/alcohol combination, and other drugs. Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act is being updated to reflect changes being made to federal impaired driving laws.

In addition, in May 2017, the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that Section 88.1 of Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act was unconstitutional. This section imposes an indefinite licence suspension for driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08 per cent—a federal criminal offence—pending the outcome of criminal court proceedings. This indefinite licence suspension is changing to a fixed-term suspension. The Traffic Safety Act is also changing to address this ruling.

1.     What is changing with federal impaired driving laws through Bill C-46?

Extensive information on the proposed federal impaired driving legislation can be found on the Government of Canada Briefly, Bill C-46 proposes:

  • Mandatory roadside screening for alcohol—reasonable suspicion of impairment will no longer be required.
  • Increased mandatory minimum penalties for impaired driving.
  • Removal of the “bolus drinking defence”—a reckless behaviour where a driver states  that a large amount of alcohol was consumed just before driving and therefore was not fully absorbed when driving occurred, thus the driver’s blood alcohol concentration was not yet over the legal limit at the time of driving.
  • Limitation of the “intervening drinking defence”—a behaviour where a driver involved in an impaired driving incident would consume a large amount of alcohol immediately after driving but before police could administer a breath test.
  • Authorizing police to use oral fluid drug screeners to detect the presence of drugs, at such time as a device is approved by Canada’s Attorney General.
  • , with specified blood drug concentration (BDC) limits to be set out in federal regulations:

    Blood Level

    Federal Criminal Penalty*

    2 ng/ml but less that 5ng/ml

    Maximum $1,000 fine (Summary conviction)

    5 ng/ml or more THC (in blood)

    (This section also includes exceeding any blood drug concentration as established in federal regulations. THC is just the first**)

    1st Offence

    Minimum $1,000 fine

    2nd Offence

    Mandatory 30 days imprisonment

    3rd and Subsequent Offence(s)

    Mandatory 120 days imprisonment

    2.5 ng/ml or more THC combined with 50 mg/100ml or more Alcohol (in blood)

    1st Offence

    Minimum $1,000 fine

    2nd Offence

    Mandatory 30 days imprisonment

    3rd and Subsequent Offence(s)

    Mandatory 120 days imprisonment

*Note: penalties are more serious for drivers who have high levels of impairment, injure or kill others while driving impaired, and those who are repeat offenders.

** The following other limits are currently proposed by the Federal Government for the blood drug concentration (BDC) offence:

  • Any detectable level in blood for: Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); Psilocybin; Psilocin; Phencyclidine (PCP); 6–Monoacetylmorphine; Ketamine; Cocaine; and Methamphetamine.
  • 5 mg/L of blood for Gammahydroxybutyrate (GHB).   

Detailed about Bill C-46 are on the Government of Canada’s website.

Changes to the Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension Program

2.   What are the changes to the Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension Program?

The immediate driver’s licence suspension for drivers with a breath or blood sample over 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, who are impaired by alcohol or a drug or by a combination of alcohol and a drug, or failed or refused to comply with a demand by a police officer to provide either a breath or blood sample will be subject to a two-stage, fixed term driving suspension of consisting of two distinct parts:

  •  90 days where an individual is unable to drive under any circumstances, AND
  •  a further one-year driving suspension where the individual may be eligible to drive on the condition that they participate in Alberta’s Ignition Interlock Program. If they choose not to participate, they will remain suspended during this one-year term with no ability to drive legally.

The Administrative Licence Suspension Program will be expanded to include drivers with a blood drug concentration or blood alcohol/drug concentration over the proposed new federal limits, when they come into effect in Ottawa. Find further information on the Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension at the following web link: franjevci-siroki-brijeg.info/4955.htm 

Criminal Code (Canada) Charges for Impaired Driving

3.   What happens if I receive a criminal charge for alcohol or drug impaired driving?

  • If a driver is charged criminally for impaired driving, the driver will receive an immediate roadside 90-day driver’s licence suspension. Following the 90 day suspension, the driver will have the option to participate in a one-year Ignition Interlock Program in order to have their driver’s licence reinstated. If they decide not to participate, they will remain suspended during this one-year term with no ability to drive legally
  • After the driver is convicted criminally, the driver will also be required to complete the Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program as part of the Reinstatement Conditions imposed by the court.

                o   1 year of Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program participation for 1st conviction,
                o   3 years of Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program participation for 2nd conviction,
                o   5 years of Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program participation for 3rd or subsequent conviction.

4.   Do these sanctions reduce impaired driving? How will the effect of these sanctions be monitored and evaluated?

Impaired driving sanctions will be monitored and reviewed the same way that government monitors other traffic safety issues, by gathering statistics and watching trends on:

                a.   the number of impaired driving collisions and casualties
                b.   the number of alcohol or drug-related administrative suspensions
                c.   the number of Criminal Code (Canada) convictions

This is in addition to continued participation in national strategies aimed at reducing impaired driving and monitoring the results of research in other jurisdictions, especially in other Canadian jurisdictions with similar laws.

Driver’s Licence Suspension

5.   If my driver’s licence is suspended, how do I get it reinstated after the suspension term is over?

Depending on the type of suspension, there are various reinstatement conditions that may apply. These may include attending an impaired remedial driving course, participating in the Ignition Interlock Program, attending a hearing with the Alberta Transportation Safety Board, and completing a Road Test.

6.   What fees do I need to pay to reinstate my driver’s licence?

You are required to pay a $13 Government Fee plus a $9 (plus GST) Alberta Registry Agent Service Fee to obtain a “Restricted” or replacement Driver’s Licence.

You will be required to pay a Reinstatement Fee of:

  • $50 – Reinstatement Fee for a Non-Alcohol-Related Suspension plus $9 (plus GST) Alberta Registry Agent Service Fee.
  • $200 - Reinstatement Fee for an Alcohol-Related Suspension plus $9 (plus GST) Alberta Registry Agent Service Fee.
  • If your driver’s licence has expired or is due to expire, you may renew it at the same time that you apply for a replacement or reissued driver’s licence. Driver’s licence renewal fees vary based on the number of years the licence is being extended.

These fees do not apply to drivers who are suspended for a period of 24-hours or three days, provided the driver’s licence is retrieved from the police agency that issued the licence suspension within one week of the suspension end date.

If the driver’s licence is not retrieved within seven days of the suspension end date, the police agency will destroy the driver’s licence, and you will be required to apply for a replacement driver’s licence at any Alberta Registry Agent (fees apply).

Vehicle Seizure

7.   If my vehicle is seized, will I need to pay for the towing and impound charges and what is the cost?

It depends on the length of the tow ride and any additional equipment needed to complete the tow, but generally the cost can start at $116 and increase approximately $2 per km. Storage fees vary, but are usually a minimum of $30 per day. These costs are an approximate based on Edmonton prices. In other locations, these costs may be greater. 

8.   Can I appeal a vehicle seizure?

The first three-day vehicle seizure may only be appealed at roadside by requesting a second confirmatory breath test. The second, third, and subsequent seven-day seizures can be appealed to the Alberta Transportation Safety Board. 

9.   If I lend my vehicle to a friend or family member and the vehicle is seized, can I get my vehicle back immediately since I own the vehicle and was not the driver? Will I be responsible for any costs or will my friend or family member be required to pay?

If you lend your vehicle to a friend or family member, you will be required to appeal the seizure to the Alberta Transportation Safety Board. As the registered owner, you are responsible for all costs involved in the seizure. 

10. If the seized vehicle belongs to an employer or to a rental agency, can it be returned sooner?

Either the employer or rental car agency can appeal the seizure to the Alberta Transportation Safety Board. As the registered owner, they will be responsible for all costs involved in the seizure. 

Appeals

11. Can I appeal a driver’s licence suspension?

Any suspension that is longer than three days may be appealed through the Alberta Transportation Safety Board, an independent tribunal that hears appeals on a broad range of traffic safety issues. It must be appealed within 30 days of being issued.

You also have a right to request an immediate, second breath test on a different instrument for alcohol or a blood test for drugs to confirm your blood alcohol or drug concentration. This roadside appeal is available for all suspensions (although the second test may not necessarily occur at roadside).

12. Can I appeal a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program driver’s licence suspension for zero tolerance?

For alcohol, you can request an immediate second breath test on a different instrument and for drugs, you can request a blood test, to confirm your blood alcohol or blood drug concentration.

You may also request a formal appeal through the Alberta Transportation Safety Board, an independent tribunal that hears appeals on a broad range of traffic issues.

Ignition Interlock Program

For detailed information on the Ignition Interlock Program, please visit the following web link: franjevci-siroki-brijeg.info/iip.htm.

13. Why should a person who only had drugs in their system have to install an ignition interlock device that can only detect alcohol?

Using an ignition interlock device for drug-impaired drivers is already common practice in Canada and in the United States, where recreational cannabis use is legalized. All Canadian provinces, including Alberta, already require ignition interlock device use for drug-impaired drivers convicted under the Criminal Code of Canada. States in the U.S.—namely Colorado, Oregon and Washington—that have legalized recreational cannabis use, include ignition interlock devices as a consequence for drug-impaired drivers.

There are a number of reasons for this practice.  A driver who reaches the criminal level of drug impairment for cannabis or other drugs has proven to be a high-risk driver. Studies show that drugs are most often paired with alcohol. Very few drug users only use drugs alone.

  • A 2014 roadside survey in Ontario found that 40 per cent of drivers, who had consumed illegal drugs, including cannabis, had also consumed alcohol.
  • In Alberta, in 2013, 24.1 per cent of fatally-injured drivers tested positive for both alcohol and drugs.

Perhaps more importantly, the most serious levels of impairment are reached through the combination of alcohol and cannabis, or alcohol and other drugs. Requiring drug-impaired drivers to install an ignition interlock device will ensure that high-risk drivers are not able to pair alcohol with drugs before driving.

Finally, impaired driving is a serious and dangerous offence. Participation in the Ignition Interlock Program is one of the sanctions for impaired driving. Significant deterrents, like the Ignition Interlock Program, make people seriously consider the consequences of driving after consuming any impairing substance. Sanctions must be the same for all types of criminal impairment.

14. What is the cost of the Ignition Interlock Program?

The Ignition Interlock Program costs $1,398 (+GST) for one year. (Device installation: $145. Application Fee: $63 (must be purchased for the Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension Ignition Interlock Program and the Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program). Monthly Rental Fee: $95 per month. Device Removal: $50). The suspended driver pays all fees.

Remedial / Educational Courses

15. What does the Planning Ahead Course include and what is the cost?

The Planning Ahead Course is a one-day program that covers impaired driving laws, the effect of alcohol on the body, and how to separate drinking and driving. There is a cost associated with this course. For more information on the Planning Ahead Course, please visit: . Other courses may be required.

16. What does the IMPACT Program include and what is the cost?

IMPACT is a live-in, weekend residential program that teaches drivers to think about how alcohol and other drugs are affecting their lives. There is a cost associated with this course. For more information on the IMPACT Program, please visit: . Other courses may be required.

17. What does the Crossroads Course include and what is the cost?

Crossroads is a 3 ½ hour course designed to prevent impaired driving. Participants will learn to identify how alcohol impairs skills at lower blood alcohol levels as well as developing action plans to avoid drinking and driving. There is a cost associated with this course. For more information on the Crossroads Course, please visit: .

Alberta Transportation Safety Board

18. What is the role of the Alberta Transportation Safety Board when it comes to impaired driving?

Alberta Transportation Safety Board hears appeals of Alberta Administrative Licence Suspensions, second and subsequent vehicle seizures, and zero tolerance suspensions and seizures for GDL drivers.

19. Who are the members of the Alberta Transportation Safety Board?

Members of the Alberta Transportation Safety Board are trained community members. They serve on the Board for an initial period of three years and may be re-appointed for an additional three years. All Alberta Transportation Safety Board members are appointed by Order-in-Council and trained in the execution of their duties.

20. What are the qualifications of the Alberta Transportation Safety Board members?

Alberta Transportation Safety Board members are community members and have varying experience, from teachers to former lawyers, former municipal  managers, ex-police officers, social workers and business people.

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