The Government of Alberta is joining many traffic safety advocates and emergency response organizations in recognizing Impaired Driving Awareness Month during July.
Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs puts people at serious risk of injury and death. Cannabis, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medication can be just as dangerous behind the wheel as alcohol, especially when taken in any combination.
Daily traffic volumes tend to increase on Alberta highways during long weekends. During the summer months, long weekends experience about 50 per cent more fatalities and 15 per cent more injuries than the rest of the year.
Impaired driving facts – the federal government updated Canada’s impaired driving laws in 2018.
Any amount of alcohol can cause impairment. Having a BAC of 0.08 or over within two hours of driving is a criminal offence.
In Alberta, and in most other Canadian jurisdictions, a driver with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.079 may face provincial consequences through the Immediate Roadside Suspension Program.
Cannabis limits are also measured using nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in blood. Criminal penalties for cannabis are – over 2 ng/ml but less that 5ng/ml of THC in blood carries a maximum $1,000 fine (summary conviction) while a 5 ng/ml or more THC in blood carries a minimum $1,000 fine for the first offence.
A second offence carries a mandatory 30 days imprisonment while third and subsequent offence (s) carry a mandatory 120 days imprisonment.
Having 2.5 ng/ml or more THC combined with 50 mg/100ml or more alcohol (in blood) carries a minimum $1,000 fine for the first offense; mandatory 30 days imprisonment for a second offence and a mandatory 120 days imprisonment for third and subsequent offenses.
Finally, refusing to comply with a demand for a sample carries a minimum $2,000 fine for the first offence, mandatory 30 days in prison for a second offence and a mandatory 120 days in prison for third and subsequent offences.
Having the prohibited level of alcohol, THC, or other impairing drugs in your blood within two hours of driving is an offence.
On average, 6,000 people were convicted of impaired driving in Alberta each year for the last five years (April 2015 to March 2019).
Over a 10-year period, from 2008 to 2017, 855 people died in Alberta as a result of alcohol- or drug-impaired driving, and nearly 13,000 people were injured.