Changes to impaired driving laws

Alberta’s impaired driving laws changed effective December 1, 2020. A new Immediate Roadside Sanctions program will keep our roads safer by providing serious and immediate consequences for all impaired drivers.

Read Freeing up police and courts to make Alberta safer for more information.

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Are you fit to drive?

Alcohol and drugs, some medications, stress, fatigue (mental, emotional, and physical), and lack of sleep will impair your judgment and ability to responsibly and safely operate a vehicle.

Alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter medications also can impair your judgment and ability to safely operate a vehicle.


Fatigue can be deadly. It can be caused by:

  • lack of sleep or rest
  • emotional stress
  • boredom
  • driving for long periods of time
  • physical activity
  • illness
  • eye strain

Overeating, use of alcohol or drugs, or a warm vehicle can increase the effects of fatigue.

Fatigue can increase the time it takes you to react. It can also impair your judgment and decision-making. This can result in driving errors like driving off the road or into another lane or oncoming traffic. You may not realize that you are in a dangerous situation or be able to react quickly.

To reduce the risk, do the following:

  • Be sure you are well rested before you start your trip.
  • Keep your vehicle at a comfortable temperature. Make sure it is well ventilated.
  • Keep your eyes moving by scanning the road ahead and behind. Stay alert to your surroundings and check your vehicle's gauges.
  • Use sunglasses on bright days.
  • If you are feeling tired, stop for a rest. Walk around your vehicle.
  • Do not drive after drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

Drugs and medications

Some prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) medications can have an impairing affect on your vehicle-handling ability, judgment and responsible decision-making when operating a vehicle. Side effects can include drowsiness or dizziness.

Talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Know the effects of all prescription and over-the-counter medication you are taking before operating any motor vehicle. Know what the effects of alcohol or drugs will be if you combine them with your medication.


Choosing to consume alcohol while operating a motor vehicle is a decision that carries a very high risk.

Drinking alcohol before and while driving continues to be a major cause of traffic deaths and injuries in Alberta.

On average, from 2012 to 2016, each year approximately 74 people died and another 1,099 were injured in collisions related to alcohol on Alberta highways.

Illegal drugs or alcohol will impair your driving. Operating a vehicle safely and responsibly requires that you be alert. Impairment begins with the first drink or drug use.

It is important that all drivers understand the risks of drinking or drug use and driving, and realize that there are risks, laws and penalties involved with this choice. You may face:

  • heavy fines
  • a criminal record
  • time in jail
  • the loss of your driver's licence privileges
  • increased vehicle insurance premiums
  • damage to property
  • serious injury or death
  • loss of employment, if driving is required as part of the job