Federal: Criminal Code of Canada

Offences related to impaired driving are:

  • impaired driving regardless of blood alcohol or drug content
  • blood alcohol level over the legal limit
  • drug or drug-alcohol combination or a toxicological (blood or urine) sample
  • refusing to provide a breath or blood sample
  • impaired driving causing bodily harm
  • impaired driving causing death
  • driving while suspended or disqualified

If you are found guilty under the Criminal Code of Canada of driving while impaired, and you have:

  • been found guilty under the various sub-sections of Section 320 of the Criminal Code of Canada, you will be disqualified from driving and your licence will be suspended for one year from the date of the finding of the guilt
  • a prior offence in the last 10 years, you will be disqualified from holding a driver's licence for 3 years from the date of the conviction
  • 2 or more prior offences in the last 10 years, you will be disqualified from holding a driver's licence for 5 years from the date of the conviction
  • if a death or injury occurs as a result of an impaired offence, the minimum licence suspension is 5 years even for a first offender

Provincial: Traffic Safety Act

Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension (AALS) Program

The Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension (AALS) Program deals with alcohol, drug-related, and alcohol-drug combination impaired driving offences and refusal to provide breath or blood samples. This includes illegal drugs as well as legal drugs such as prescription medication with side effects that may cause the driver to be impaired.

Administrative Licence Suspensions

The Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension (AALS) Program applies to drivers who:

  • are over the federal legal limits for alcohol, cannabis or cannabis/alcohol combination with:
    • a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 (or 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood) or more
    • a blood drug concentration (BDC) of 5 nanograms or more of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per millilitre of blood
    • a combination of a BAC of 0.05 (50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood) and a BDC of 2.5 nanograms or more of THC per one millilitre of blood, or
  • are over any detectable level of LSD, psilocybin, psilocin, ketamine, PCP, cocaine, methamphetamine, 6-mam, or
  • are over 5 mg/L of GHG, or
  • are reasonably believed to be impaired by drugs or alcohol or a combination of drugs and alcohol, or
  • fail or refuse to provide requested breath or fluid sample(s)

Drivers charged with an alcohol, drug or alcohol-drug combination impaired driving offence will face an immediate 2-stage, fixed term licence suspension.

Alberta has progressive administrative sanctions for impaired driving convictions:

1st Criminal Code Charge within 10 years

  • immediate 2-stage, fixed term driving suspension consisting of 2 distinct parts:
    • a 90-day driving suspension where the suspended driver is unable to drive under any circumstances, AND
    • a further 1-year driving suspension where the suspended driver may be eligible to drive on a condition that they participate in the Alberta Ignition Interlock Program. If they choose not to participate, they will remain suspended during this 1-year term with no ability to drive legally.
  • towing and impound charges
  • 3 day vehicle seizure
  • if convicted of the criminal code offence, the driver is suspended for 1 year and must participate in the mandatory Ignition Interlock Program for 1 year
  • if convicted, the driver must complete a "Planning Ahead" impaired driving course

2nd Criminal Code Charge within 10 years

  • immediate 2-stage, fixed term driving suspension consisting of 2 distinct parts:
    • a 90-day driving suspension where the suspended driver is unable to driver under any circumstances, AND
    • a further 1-year driving suspension where the suspended driver may be eligible to drive on a condition that they participate in the Alberta Ignition Interlock Program. If they choose not to participate, they will remain suspended during this 1-year term with no ability to drive legally.
  • towing and impound charges
  • 7 day vehicle seizure
  • if convicted of the criminal code offence, the driver is suspended for 3 years and must also participate in the mandatory Ignition Interlock Program for 3 years
  • if convicted, the driver must complete an "IMPACT" weekend impaired driving course, which may include assessment and monitoring

3rd Criminal Code Charge within 10 years

  • immediate 2-stage, fixed term driving suspension consisting of 2 distinct parts:
    • a 90-day driving suspension where the suspended driver is unable to driver under any circumstances, AND
    • a further 1-year driving suspension where the suspended driver may be eligible to drive on a condition that they participate in the Alberta Ignition Interlock Program. If they choose not to participate, they will remain suspended during this 1-year term with no ability to drive legally.
  • towing and impound charges
  • 7 day vehicle seizure
  • if convicted of the criminal code offence, the driver is suspended for 5 years and must also participate in the mandatory Ignition Interlock Program for 5 years
  • complete the "IMPACT" course or equivalent which may include assessment and monitoring
  • attend a hearing with the Alberta Transportation Safety Board

Drivers convicted of an impaired driving offence that causes death or injury will receive a mandatory 5 year suspension of their driving privileges.

Regardless of the outcome of any criminal proceedings, the AALS will remain in effect and drivers will be suspended for the full 90 days and 1-year suspension term. The burden of proof for criminal charges is much higher than administrative sanctions, and as you were deemed unsafe at the time of the event by law enforcement, the administrative suspension will stand.

Refusal to provide a breath sample continues to result in a charge under the Criminal Code (Canada). In addition, an immediate suspension 2-stage, fixed term driver's licence suspension is issued.

Alberta Zero Alcohol/Drug Tolerance (AZAT) Program for Graduated Driver Licence (GDL) Drivers

Drivers licensed under the Graduated Driver Licence (GDL) Program who have consumed any amount of alcohol/drug, cannabis, cannabis/alcohol combination, and illegal drugs cannot operate a vehicle. GDL drivers who violate this condition will have their driver's licence privileges suspended immediately for 30 days under the GDL AZAT program. The vehicle will also be seized for 7 days. If a GDL driver violates this condition a second time he or she will have their driver's licence privileges suspended for 30 days with a 7 day vehicle seizure and will be directed to appear before the Alberta Transportation Safety Board (ATSB).

If the suspension occurs in the last year of GDL, the driver will be held in the Graduated Drivers Licensing program until they are suspension free for one year.

Charges under the Criminal Code of Canada for Blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater; blood drug concentration of 5 nanograms or more of THC per millilitres of blood; ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired by drugs, alcohol or a combination, or refusal to provide a breath sample for GDL drivers, will fall under the Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension Program.

Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS) Program

Driving skills are seriously affected when blood alcohol levels reach 0.05 and the risk of being in a serious collision increases. Drivers who provide a breath sample between 0.05 and 0.08 are subject to immediate roadside sanctions as follows:

1st offence within 10 years

  • immediate 3 day licence suspension
  • towing and impound charges
  • 3 day vehicle seizure

2nd offence within 10 years

  • immediate 15 day licence suspension
  • towing and impound charges
  • 7 day vehicle seizure
  • complete a "crossroads" or equivalent impaired driving course or equivalent
  • upon referral by the Registrar, the driver will have to attend a hearing with the Alberta Transportation Safety Board

3rd subsequent offence within 10 years

  • immediate 30 day licence suspension
  • towing and impound charges
  • 7 day vehicle seizure
  • complete the "IMPACT" course or equivalent which may include assessment and monitoring
  • attend a mandatory Alberta Transportation Safety Board hearing

Alberta 24-hour suspension

This suspension is given to drivers whose ability to operate a motor vehicle has been impaired by a physical or medical condition, or by drugs or alcohol. A 24 hour licence disqualification will be issued.

  • Driving Within the Law
  • Driving laws