The Government of Alberta is joining many traffic safety advocates and emergency response organizations in recognizing Impaired Driving Awareness Month during July. Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs puts people at serious risk of injury and death. Cannabis, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medication can be just as dangerous behind the wheel as alcohol, especially when taken in any combination.

“The summer season offers travellers the best conditions for safe driving, yet fatal collision rates rise during the summer months. These collisions are preventable, and it’s up to all Albertans to make sure our roads are safe. Please plan ahead this summer and make smart choices: don’t drive while impaired, and be prepared to make alternate travel plans if consuming drugs or alcohol.”

Ric McIver, Minister of Transportation

Daily traffic volumes tend to increase on Alberta highways during long weekends. During the summer months, long weekends experience about 50 per cent more fatalities and 15 per cent more injuries than the rest of the year.

Impaired driving facts

  • The federal government updated Canada’s impaired driving laws in 2018.
  • Any amount of alcohol can cause impairment.
  • Having a BAC of 0.08 or over within two hours of driving is a criminal offence.
  • In Alberta, and in most other Canadian jurisdictions, a driver with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.079 may face provincial consequences through the Immediate Roadside Suspension Program.
  • Cannabis limits are measured using nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in blood.
  • Criminal penalties for cannabis are:
    • Over 2 ng/ml but less that 5ng/ml of THC in blood:
      • Maximum $1,000 fine (summary conviction)
    • 5 ng/ml or more THC in blood:
      • 1st offence: Minimum $1,000 fine
      • 2nd offence:  Mandatory 30 days imprisonment
      • 3rd and subsequent offence(s): Mandatory 120 days imprisonment
    • 2.5 ng/ml or more THC combined with 50 mg/100ml or more alcohol (in blood):
      • 1st offence:   Minimum $1,000 fine
      • 2nd offence:  Mandatory 30 days imprisonment
      • 3rd and subsequent offence(s): Mandatory 120 days imprisonment
    • Refusing to comply with a demand for a sample:
      • 1st offence: Minimum $2,000 fine
      • 2nd offence:  Mandatory 30 days imprisonment
      • 3rd and subsequent offence(s): Mandatory 120 days imprisonment
  • Having the prohibited level of alcohol, THC, or other impairing drugs in your blood within two hours of driving is an offence.
  • On average, 6,000 people were convicted of impaired driving in Alberta each year for the last five years (April 2015 to March 2019).
  • Over a 10-year period, from 2008 to 2017, 855 people died in Alberta as a result of alcohol- or drug-impaired driving, and nearly 13,000 people were injured.

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