Impaired drivers beware

New roadside fines and other measures

Leader staff

Starting Dec. 1, the Alberta government moved first-time impaired offences out of court with automatic fines and vehicle seizures, says an Alberta government media release. It also started a separate judicial branch called SafeRoads Alberta. Serious impaired driving will still result in criminal charges.

“I want to be very clear: impaired driving is always unacceptable,” says Kaycee Madu, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, in a government of Alberta media release. “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.”

Impaired driving, mostly from alcohol, is a problem in Slave Lake. In Slave Lake Provincial Court, most weeks, at least one person enters a guilty plea for impaired driving or sets a trial. Many of these are first time offences, by a person without a criminal record. However, some weeks it gets more interesting.

For example, on Sept. 16, 2020 in Slave Lake Provincial Court, two individuals with records for impaired driving pled guilty to two or more charges each.

A man pled guilty to two charges of impaired driving. He was sentenced to 120 days in jail, one year probation, and a three-year driving prohibition.

A woman pled guilty to failure to provide a breath sample and two charges of impaired driving. She was sentenced to 135 days, three concurrent driving prohibitions, and one year of probation.

For part of their prohibition both were ineligible to apply for ‘interlock’, a device which would allow them to drive when sober.

One of the new regulations is mandatory ignition interlock for repeat offenders.

There are also other changes, which non-government organizations applaud in the media release.

For example, Andrew Murie, MADD Canada chief executive officer, says:

“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.”

Quick facts
Under the new impaired driving laws, significant penalties will be handed out roadside, getting impaired drivers off the streets immediately. Stronger penalties for impaired driving include:

Fines of up to $2,000

Vehicle seizure up to 30 days

New mandatory education programs for repeat offenders

New zero-tolerance consequences for novice drivers and commercial drivers will also be introduced.

The Alberta Transportation Safety Board will finish hearing cases submitted before Dec. 1 and is expected to wrap up operations by March 31, 2021.

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