New legislation on impaired driving starts Dec. 1

by Stephen Dafoe

Police will be able to administer stricter impaired driving penalties on the road starting Dec. 1, and first-time impaired drivers will be handled outside of court quicker through SafeRoads Alberta.

The new impaired driving laws will see penalties handed out at the roadside, in a move the government says gets impaired drivers off the street immediately. The new penalties include fines up to $2,000, vehicle seizures for up to 30 days. Repeat offenders will see new mandatory education programs and  ignition interlocks. The government is also introducing new zero-tolerance consequences for novice drivers and commercial drivers.

“I want to be very clear: impaired driving is always unacceptable,” said Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu in a media release Monday. “SafeRoads Alberta will help get impaired drivers off the road and free up court and police resources – allowing police to focus on keeping our communities safe and the courts to focus on the most serious matters.”

Dale McFee, president of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police applauded the implementation of Phase 1 of Bill 21, the Administrative Penalties Act.

“This proven system of addressing impaired driving will reduce the time our officers and the courts must commit to dealing with these serious offences while still holding impaired drivers accountable,” McFee said. “This allows our officers to spend more time focusing on the community to reduce crime and victimization. In addition, it has been shown that dealing with impairment with sanctions to the subject’s vehicle in the first instance drastically reduces future offences. We look forward to the full implementation of this new legislation.”

MADD Canada also welcomed Monday’s announcement.

“These measures deliver strong, immediate penalties and sanctions to those individuals who continue to disregard the law and put lives in danger by driving impaired. They will reduce impaired driving and save lives,” said MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie.

Full details on the changes can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/trans-fact-sheet-provincial-administrative-penalties-act.pdf

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