Overview

If you are found guilty of driving over the criminal limits for alcohol or drugs, you will face serious criminal penalties in addition to any provincial sanctions that apply.

Alcohol

Federal limits

In all Canadian provinces, the maximum legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for fully licensed drivers is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood or 0.08. Driving with a BAC of 0.08 or more is a criminal (federal) offence and the penalties are severe.

Provincial limits

In Alberta, and in most other Canadian jurisdictions, if your BAC is between 0.05 and 0.079, you will also face provincial consequences through the Immediate Roadside Suspension Program.

Drugs

If police determine you are driving while impaired by any drug, including illegal drugs, cannabis, prescription and over-the-counter medications, you will face severe consequences, including federal criminal charges and penalties and provincial sanctions.

Penalties for criminal-level impaired driving offences can be found in Part VIII.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Mandatory alcohol screening

As of December 18, 2018, new federal legislation for mandatory alcohol screening authorizes police officers to request a breath test for blood alcohol concentration from any driver they lawfully stop.

What’s changed

Police will no longer require reasonable grounds to suspect that a driver is impaired by alcohol before requesting a breath sample to determine the driver’s sobriety.

Sober or not, a driver who refuses to provide a breath sample would be criminally charged with refusal to provide a sample. Failure to comply is considered a criminal offence and could result in a criminal charge as well as any applicable provincial sanctions.

For more information on the new legislation and mandatory alcohol screening, visit Justice Canada’s Question and Answers page.

Consequences

If you are found guilty of criminal-level impaired driving, you may be required to:

  • complete a Federal Driving Prohibition as stated on the Order of Driving Prohibition Against an Offender issued by the Courts
  • pay a reinstatement fee at any Alberta registry agent
  • complete a remedial education course
  • successfully participate in the Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program for a prescribed term
  • successfully complete a road test at any Alberta registry agent

See your Notice of Suspension for full suspension and reinstatement details.

Contact

For information about mandatory alcohol screening, contact:

Department of Justice Canada
Phone: 613-957-4222
TDD/TTY: 613-992-4556
Fax: 613-954-0811
Email: webadmin@justice.gc.ca

Address:
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0H8

To connect with Driver Fitness and Monitoring:

Hours: 8:15 am to 12:00 pm, and 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-427-8230
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Fax: 780-422-6612
Email: driver.fitness@gov.ab.ca

Address:
Main Floor, Twin Atria Building
Room 109, 4999 98 Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta  T6B 2X3