Alberta’s new impaired driving laws

January 4, 2021 | Darin J. Hannaford, KC, Julia S. Amelio

The Provincial Administrative Penalties Act (the “Act”) came into force on December 1, 2020. The Government of Alberta has stated the purpose of the Act is to simplify its existing impaired driving programs and strengthen its impaired driving laws.

The Act introduces a new Immediate Roadside Sanction (“IRS”) program with immediate and escalating consequences for impaired drivers, including: (a) new fines up to $2,000; (b) increased length of vehicle seizures; and (c) increased driver’s licence suspensions for repeat offenders. Notably, most first-time impaired driving offences will now result in administrative penalties as opposed to criminal charges. Drivers will be able to have their charges handled outside of court.

A new administrative penalty for commercial drivers has also been introduced as “IRS ZERO: Commercial.” This policy imposes zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol for commercial drivers operating the following: (a) a commercial vehicle; (b) a combination of vehicles that has a registered gross vehicle weight of more than 11,794 kilograms; or (c) a commercial vehicle that has a manufacturer’s seating capacity designed for 11 or more passengers, including the driver. The Government of Alberta stated that commercial drivers operating in a commercial capacity are to be held to a higher standard due to the complexity and size of commercial vehicles.

The Act also introduces SafeRoads Alberta, the new administrative adjudication branch of Alberta Transportation that is responsible for resolving disputes of traffic-related administrative penalties. The new administrative process is intended to reduce the cost and time associated with these traffic disputes. Administrative penalty disputes will be resolved within 30 days of notice being received by the driver.

For more information on the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act, visit the Government of Alberta’s website, or contact any member of the Miller Thomson Transportation & Logistics team.


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