By MorinvilleNews.com Staff
Edmonton – Impaired driving caused 96 deaths and 1,384 injuries in Alberta in 2010 according to the provincial government, motivation behind Bill 26, a piece of legislation that will crack down harder on those who crack down on the drinks before getting behind the wheel.
The bill, given first reading Monday, is aimed at improving safety on the province’s roads by increasing the penalties and ramifications of getting caught having had too many, particularly repeat offenders.
“Not only does Alberta’s approach target repeat offenders, it is designed to reduce the number of drivers who become repeat offenders in the first place,” said Transportation Minister Ray Danyluk in a release Monday. “I have one goal for this legislation – and that is having more Albertans arrive home safe at the end of the day.”
The bill outlines the toughest sanctions for drivers with blood-alcohol content over .08, the legal limit under the Criminal Code. Under the proposed bill, drivers exceeding .08 would have their licences suspended on the spot and the suspension would remain in effect until the matter was resolved in court. If convicted, the driver would have to participate in the Mandatory Ignition Interlock program.
Although laws allow police to issue 24-hour suspensions for those with a blood alcohol content from .05 to .08, the bill outlines a series of progressive sanctions for drivers blowing between .05 and .08. If passed, first time offenders would receive a three-day licence suspension and forfeiture of their vehicle for three days. A second offence would elevate the suspension to 15 days for the licence and seven for the vehicle as well as a mandatory course on planning ahead. Third offences would result in a 30-day licence suspension, a 7-day vehicle seizure, and a mandatory Impact course.
Those blowing over .08, in addition to receiving the sustained license suspension until the court matter is resolved will receive a three-day vehicle seizure on a first offence; seven days on a second and subsequent offence.
Repeat offenders convicted of impaired driving will have a mandatory ignition interlock installed in their vehicle for one year on a first offence, three years on a second, and five years on a third offence.
“Suspensions for drivers between .05 and .08 are nothing new in Alberta,” said Minister of Justice Verlyn Olson, who championed the bill with Danyluk. “What this legislation would introduce are new education programs and sanctions for these drivers, new mechanisms to track repeat offenders and new, tougher, penalties for drivers who are caught over .08.”