Impaired driving laws changing

by Morinville News Staff

The Government of Alberta amended the Traffic Safety Act in 2012 so that drivers with a blood alcohol concentration over 0.08 or those who refuse to provide a breath sample would have their driver’s licence suspended until the criminal charge is resolved.

Following an Alberta Court of Appeal ruling that suspending licences until a matter is resolved in court infringes on an individual’s Charter rights, the Government of Alberta will now look at implementing changes to impaired driving legislation.

The province will not appeal the court’s decision in R. v Sahaluk and says it will explore other legislative models and strategies across Canada.

However, the court is allowing the current sanctions to remain in place until May 2018, allowing police officers to suspend licences in impaired driving situations.

The Government of Alberta says it will have ongoing conversations with key stakeholders before bringing any new impaired driving legislation forward.

“The safety of Albertans in communities and on our roads is our top priority,” said Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley. “Deaths caused by impaired driving are senseless, tragic and 100 percent preventable. We will be looking at other legislative models across the country to see which initiatives have been most effective in saving lives. We want to ensure that our laws reduce impaired driving and are also upheld in court.”

Andrew Murie, CEO, MADD Canada, says impaired driving is a crime that claims nearly twice as many lives each year in Canada as all forms of homicide combined. Murie is pleased the province will continue to work to reduce impaired driving on the province’s roads.

“We are pleased to see the Government of Alberta moving forward to explore a more effective model to deter and reduce impaired driving in that province,” Murie said. “We look forward to working with them to ensure this happens.”

There have been nearly 400 alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities in Alberta between 2011 and 2015. In 2011 and 2012, there were 78 alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities, 80 in 2013, 68 in 2014, and another 85 in 2015.

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