Overview

Alberta, like all Canadian jurisdictions, has provincial sanctions that apply to impaired driving in addition to criminal penalties imposed by the courts under the Criminal Code of Canada.

The Government of Canada is responsible for the Criminal Code (Canada) which includes transportation-related offences and penalties, including impaired driving penalties. Federal penalties for impaired driving can include driving prohibitions, fines, jail time and participation in an ignition interlock program.

Alberta’s Impaired Driving Framework

Events that occurred on or after December 1, 2020

For impaired driving events that occurred on or after December 1, 2020, Alberta has 5 different types of sanctions that fall under the Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS) Program for alcohol and drug-impaired driving:

  • IRS: FAIL
    • This program applies when law enforcement has reasonable grounds to believe that:
      • a driver has operated a motor vehicle while their ability to do so was impaired to any degree by alcohol or a drug or by a combination of alcohol and a drug.
      • within 2 hours after ceasing to operate a motor vehicle, the driver had a blood alcohol concentration that was equal to or exceeds 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.
      • within 2 hours after ceasing to operate a motor vehicle, the driver had a blood drug concentration that is equal to or exceeds any blood drug concentration for the drug that is prescribed by regulation under the Criminal Code (Canada).
      • within 2 hours after ceasing to operate a motor vehicle, the driver had a blood alcohol concentration and a blood drug concentration that is equal to or exceeds the blood alcohol concentration and the blood drug concentration for the drug that is prescribed by regulation under the Criminal Code (Canada) for instances where alcohol and that drug are combined.
      • knowing a demand had been made, the driver failed or refused, without a reasonable excuse, to comply with a demand made under the Criminal Code (Canada).
    • Contraventions for this type of sanction include escalating terms of driver’s licence suspension, mandatory remedial education, vehicle seizure and fines.
    • Penalties will escalate based on the number of prior occurrences since April 9, 2018.
    • In addition to provincial sanctions, the court may also impose criminal charges and federal penalties for criminal level impaired driving.
  • IRS: WARN
    • This program applies when law enforcement has reasonable grounds to believe that a driver has operated a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration that is equal to or exceeds 50 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.
    • Contraventions for this type of sanction include escalating terms of driver’s licence suspension, vehicle seizure, mandatory remedial education and fines.
    • Penalties will escalate based on the number of prior occurrences since September 1, 2012.
  • IRS ZERO: Novice
    • This program applies to novice drivers in the class 7 learner’s licence category and class 5 GDL category drivers who must have a zero blood alcohol/drug level when driving.
    • Contraventions for this type of sanction include driver’s licence suspension, vehicle seizure and fines.
  • IRS ZERO: Commercial
    • This program applies to commercial drivers operating a commercial vehicle in a commercial capacity who must have a zero blood alcohol/drug level when driving.
    • Contraventions for this type of sanction include driver’s licence suspension and fines.
    • Penalties will escalate based on the number of prior occurrences since December 1, 2020.
  • IRS: 24 Hour
    • This program applies to drivers who are suspected of being impaired by alcohol, drugs or a physical or medical condition that affects their ability to safely operate a vehicle.
    • A 24-Hour driver’s licence suspension and vehicle seizure may be issued.

Events that occurred on or before November 30, 2020

For impaired driving events that occurred on or before November 30, 2020, Alberta has 4 different types of suspension programs for alcohol and drug-impaired driving:

  • Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension Program
    • This program applied to drivers:
      • who were over the federal legal limits for alcohol, cannabis, cannabis/alcohol combination or illegal drugs.
      • were reasonably believed to be impaired by drugs or alcohol or a combination of drugs and alcohol.
      • failed or refused to provide requested breath or fluid sample(s).
    • Sanctions under this program included driver’s licence suspension and vehicle seizure.
    • In addition to provincial sanctions, the court may also impose criminal charges and federal penalties for criminal level impaired driving.
  • Alberta Zero Alcohol/Drug Tolerance Program
    • This program is a zero tolerance approach for all alcohol and/or drugs when driving for those in the novice class 7 learner’s licence or class 5 GDL category.
    • Sanctions under this program included driver’s licence suspension and vehicle seizure.
  • Immediate Roadside Suspension Program
    • This program applied when law enforcement had reasonable grounds to believe that a driver has operated a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration that is equal to or exceeds 50 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.
    • Sanctions under this program included escalating terms of driver’s licence suspension and vehicle seizure. On the second and subsequent occurrence, completion of a remedial education course was required.
  • 24-Hour Suspension Program
    • This program applied when law enforcement suspected a driver to be impaired by alcohol, drugs or a physical or medical condition that affected their ability to safely operate a vehicle.
    • A 24-Hour driver’s licence suspension and vehicle seizure was issued.

Remedial education courses

Drivers may be required to participate in remedial education courses as part of the provincial sanctions for impaired driving. The Alberta Motor Association delivers the Alberta Impaired Driver’s Program (remedial education courses on behalf of the Government of Alberta) in accordance with Alberta’s impaired driving laws:

  • The Crossroads course is 3.5 hours and is designed to prevent impaired driving.
  • The Planning Ahead is a one-day program that covers impaired driving laws, the effect of alcohol and drugs on the body and how to separate drinking and driving.
  • The IMPACT Program is a live-in, weekend residential program that teaches drivers to think about how alcohol and other drugs are affecting their lives.

Contact

Connect with Driver Fitness and Monitoring:

Driver fitness monitoring contact form

Phone: 780-427-8230
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)

Hours: 8:15 am to 12 pm, and 1 pm to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)