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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.
If your driver’s licence is suspended through an impaired driving-related Criminal Code (Canada) conviction, you will be required to participate in the Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program otherwise your driver’s licence will remain suspended.
To have your driver’s licence fully reinstated, you must demonstrate a sustained ability to separate driving and drinking.
You must participate in the Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program for the length of time indicated in the mailed Confirmation of Suspension. This term could be extended if you do not meet the requirements. Your term starts when the interlock device is installed in the vehicle.
If criminal charges result in a criminal conviction, you:
- will receive a provincial driver’s licence suspension term under the Traffic Safety Act
- will receive a federal driving prohibition under the Criminal Code (Canada). In this federal driving prohibition, you may receive a minimum absolute prohibition term where you are unable to drive under any circumstance.
- will be required to participate in the Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program
- will be required to attend a remedial education course if your initial impaired driving event occurred on or before November 30, 2020 under the AALS Program
- will be required to pay a driver’s licence reinstatement fee that must be paid at an Alberta registry agent
Fines and imprisonment may also be imposed by the court depending on the conviction.
If you are already serving an Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension or an Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS) Program of IRS FAIL term and you are criminally convicted and receive an additional Ignition Interlock Program term, you may serve both terms at the same Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program Terms and Conditions will apply.
For more information, see the Ignition Interlock Program Participant Guide.
Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act does allow for exemptions when it is not feasible to comply with the requirement. Feasibility is defined as the physical incapacity or physical incapability to comply with the requirement of an interlock device. Financial constraints, vehicle inaccessibility and occupational hardships will not be considered.
If you are approved for an exemption from the Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program, you will still need to complete the terms of your prohibition period. The Registrar may impose a further period of disqualification or another term or condition to ensure public safety.
You can apply for an exemption from the Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program when you have completed all of the reinstatement conditions, aside from the road test, reinstatement fee payment and the outstanding Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program reinstatement condition requirement.
To apply for an exemption, submit a letter to Driver Fitness and Monitoring by fax or email (in PDF format) with the following information:
- driver’s licence number or motor vehicle identification number
- full name and date of birth
- mailing address, telephone number and email address, if applicable
- the reason(s) why it is not feasible to comply with the requirement for an interlock device
Before an exemption request for a medical condition can be fully evaluated, you will need to complete the following steps in this order:
- Contact Smart Start to complete practical testing using the interlock device. Smart Start has the ability to modify and adjust the breath pressure settings on the interlock device to determine if a successful breath sample can be achieved. The testing will be completed through a variety of methods to ensure accuracy and validation. To schedule your testing provided at no charge, contact Smart Start at 1-844-432-4776. Once the testing is complete, Smart Start will forward the test results to Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors to attach to your motor vehicle file.
- Provide our office with signed correspondence from your regular attending physician verifying your medical condition along with evidentiary medical testing to support your physical incapacity or incapability to participate.
Processing time for exemption requests is 6-8 weeks.
You must be an Alberta resident to be eligible for an Alberta restricted driver’s licence.
You can apply to the Ignition Interlock Program when you have 30-days or less remaining in your minimum absolute prohibition term as indicated on the Order of Driving Prohibition Against an Offender received in court. You can get a replacement copy of this document through the Provincial Court of Alberta.
You must not be currently serving any other suspension(s) other than the current impaired driving suspension otherwise the Ignition Interlock Program application will be denied.
Driver Fitness and Monitoring must approve your Ignition Interlock Program application.
Driver Fitness and Monitoring may deny any Ignition Interlock Program Application in the interest of public safety.
You must complete all reinstatement conditions other than the road test and payment of the reinstatement fee prior to having your Ignition Interlock Program Application approved. The Alcohol-Related Reinstatement Fee is $209 (subject to change at any time) and can be paid at any Alberta registry agent.
If you are a first-time offender, you must complete the Planning Ahead course. You can submit your Ignition Interlock Program Application for approval prior to completing this course. You will need to complete the course prior to the installation of the ignition interlock device.
If you are a repeat or subsequent offender, you must complete the IMPACT program. This must be completed prior to submitting your Ignition Interlock Program Application. If not, your Ignition Interlock Program Application will be denied and returned to you unprocessed until the program is completed.
Do not submit the proof of course completion certificates for these programs with your application form. You will need to present them to the installer when the interlock device is installed.
Do not submit any additional documentation with your application. Any unnecessary documentation submitted with the application will be securely destroyed and not returned to the applicant.
For more information on remedial education courses, contact the Alberta Motor Association at 780-430-8811 or toll-free in Alberta by dialing 1-800-272-5698.
If you cannot or do not participate in the program, the suspension will be continue beyond the reinstatement date and will remain in effect until all of the reinstatement requirements are met, including participation in the Ignition Interlock Program.
To receive credit toward the Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program, you must have access to an ignition interlock device-equipped vehicle for the duration of the suspension term and record a minimum of 100 kilometres of driving each month.
You do not have to be the registered owner of a vehicle to have the ignition interlock device installed. You can rent or borrow a motor vehicle to complete the Ignition Interlock Program participation term.
An ignition interlock device may be installed in a company vehicle as long as the registered owner provides written authorization and has proof of insurance. Any ‘warns’ or ‘fails’ registered on the ignition interlock device, regardless of who is operating the motor vehicle, will be the responsibility of the Ignition Interlock Program participant and may result in their Ignition Interlock Program participation term being extended.
You can expect to pay the following Ignition Interlock Program costs which are subject to change without notice:
- $145 plus GST for the ignition interlock device installation (there is an additional $100 surcharge for heavy trucks and specialty vehicles)
- $95 plus GST per month for the rental of the ignition interlock device
- $63 for the Ignition Interlock Program Application, in addition to the Alberta Registry Agent fee
- $50 plus GST for removal of the ignition interlock device
- $315 for the Planning Ahead and $925 for the IMPACT program, if required
- Fees for the restricted driver's licence and road test, when applicable, must be paid at an Alberta registry agent
How to apply
Step 1. Determine if you are eligible
Review the information in the Order of Driving Prohibition Against an Offender received in court, and determine whether you are eligible to apply and ready to participate in the program prior to paying the non-refundable Ignition Interlock Program Application fee.
Step 2. Complete the application
Review the Ignition Interlock Program Participant Guide (TRANS3) prior to purchasing your application form, which is available free of charge at any Alberta registry agent, or refer to the Ignition Interlock Program Participant Guide.
Visit any Alberta registry agent to purchase and complete your portion of the Ignition Interlock Program Application. The Ignition Interlock Program Application must be signed and dated or it will be denied and returned to you for completion before it can be processed.
Step 3. Submit the application
Submit the Ignition Interlock Program Application form either by email (in PDF format) or fax to Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors Driver Fitness and Monitoring.
If you are already participating in the provincial AALS Ignition Interlock Program or IRS FAIL Ignition Interlock Program, you are not required to purchase and submit another Ignition Interlock Program Application to Driver Fitness and Monitoring to participate in the Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program; your participation will be automatically transitioned by Driver Fitness and Monitoring, unless you receive a minimum absolute prohibition in your federal driving prohibition. Refer to the information in the Ignition Interlock Program Participant Guide (TRANS3) for full details.
If you lost your approval letter from Driver Fitness and Monitoring for participation in the Ignition Interlock Program, contact Smart Start directly to schedule your installation at 1-844-432-4776. A replacement copy of your approval letter from Driver Fitness and Monitoring is not required as Smart Start will receive electronic notification of your approval to participate.
If you have lost your Certificate of Installation for the interlock device, contact Smart Start at 1-844-432-4776 to obtain a replacement copy.
If you lost your original Ignition Interlock Program Application and had not yet submitted it to Driver Fitness and Monitoring for approval, you must purchase another Ignition Interlock Program Application from any Alberta registry agent.
Step 4. You will be notified by mail
Driver Fitness and Monitoring will notify you by mail of whether or not you have been accepted to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program.
It can take up to 30 days for your application to be processed plus additional time for the application to be mailed to you. If it has been more than 40 days since you applied, contact Driver Fitness and Monitoring.
If you are accepted, you will receive the signed, approved application in the mail along with the following information:
- how to get the ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle
- training on how to operate the device
- information on completing the road test, if required, to obtain a restricted driver’s licence
Step 5. Get the ignition interlock device
Contact Smart Start Canada, Alberta’s ignition interlock service provider, to have the ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
The Smart Start Canada website has several self-serve options. You can also contact them by phone at 1-844-432-4776 (toll free in Alberta).
Step 6. Get a restricted driver’s licence
Once the approved application is signed by the installer showing the installation is complete, you can bring the application to any Alberta registry agent to get a restricted driver’s licence.
Ensure you have satisfied all reinstatement conditions (including payment of the reinstatement fee(s). The registry agent will validate your completed Ignition Interlock Program Application Form and retain for further administrative processing.
You will be issued a restricted driver’s licence, displaying your new status as “restricted to a vehicle with an alcohol sensing ignition interlock device”.
For more information, see the Mandatory IIP Process flow chart.
Restricted driver’s licence
You cannot operate any motor vehicle until you are issued a restricted driver’s licence. If you do, you can receive additional charges of driving while suspended, vehicle seizure and additional sanctions/penalties.
Once you are issued a Restricted Driver’s Licence, you will only be legally permitted to drive a vehicle with an ignition interlock device.
If you drive a vehicle without an ignition interlock device, you can receive additional charges of driving while suspended, vehicle seizure and additional sanctions/penalties.
If your driver’s licence is suspended for more than one year, you may need to complete a road test. You will be responsible for the cost of the road test and restricted driver’s licence.
If a road test was a required reinstatement condition and was not completed prior to the ignition interlock device installation, you are not yet able to legally drive and you will need to make arrangements (for example through a family member, friend, taxi or ride-sharing service) to get to an Alberta registry agent to take your road test.
The driver examiner may request that you show your Ignition Interlock Program Application Form.
Upon successful completion of the road test, ensure your completed Ignition Interlock Program Application Form is returned to you. You will submit the approved application form and the road test permit to the Alberta registry agent in exchange for a restricted driver’s licence.
You must be issued and maintain a restricted driver’s licence for your entire Ignition Interlock Program term, otherwise the Registrar may extend your term or revoke your Ignition Interlock Program participation.
Your Ignition Interlock Program term length will begin once you have installed the ignition interlock device and obtained a restricted driver’s licence.
Step 7. Get the device removed
Schedule an appointment with Smart Start to have the ignition interlock device removed on or after the last day of your Ignition Interlock Program term.
Once the ignition interlock device is removed, Smart Start will send your last report readings to Driver Fitness and Monitoring for review and assessment. The reports will be assessed to determine if you have successfully met the Ignition Interlock Program requirements.
If you have met all of the requirements, the Ignition Interlock Program reinstatement condition will be removed. You will need to make arrangements to get to an Alberta registry agent to obtain your unrestricted driver’s licence.
If you have not met all of the requirements, your Ignition Interlock Program term will be extended.
If you receive another driving suspension while you are in the Ignition Interlock Program, you must surrender your restricted driver’s licence to an Alberta registry agent and contact Smart Start to have the ignition interlock device removed from the vehicle. You are responsible for any costs associated with removing or reinstalling the ignition interlock device.
After serving the additional suspension, you may schedule an appointment with Smart Start to reinstall the ignition interlock device in the vehicle. Once the ignition interlock device is reinstalled, you must be reissued a restricted driver’s licence from an Alberta registry agent and you will be informed of your new anticipated Ignition Interlock Program participation end date.
Removal from provincial interlock program
If you are already participating in the Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension Ignition Interlock Program (AALS IIP) when you receive a Criminal Code (Canada) conviction and a federal driving prohibition term, Driver Fitness and Monitoring will process your removal from the Ignition Interlock Program. During the federal driving prohibition term you will not be permitted to drive, even with an ignition interlock device.
The federal driving prohibition takes effect upon being issued in court.
Driver Fitness and Monitoring will mail a letter to advise that you have been removed from the provincial AALS IIP to serve the federal driving prohibition.
You will have the option to:
- remove the ignition interlock device from your vehicle to serve any required federal driving prohibition and have it reinstalled once you are ready to fulfil the reinstatement requirements of the Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program, or
- keep the ignition interlock device in your vehicle during the federal driving prohibition term even though you are not legally permitted to drive, provided you pay the monthly lease costs with the service provider
Once you are ready to have your driver’s licence reinstated and have the approved Ignition Interlock Program application, you must contact Smart Start Canada, the service provider, to schedule a reinstatement and installation. You may be required to pay a lock-out fee, as required for all other suspensions, to take the vehicle to Smart Start for calibration/reinstatement.
Ignition interlock installation
For information on ignition interlock device installation:
Website: Smart Start Canada
Toll free: 1-844-432-4776 (in Alberta)
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