New impaired driving laws take effect in Alberta from today

New impaired driving laws that give police officers more roadside powers came into effect in Alberta on Monday.

Transportation Minister Brian Mason said he hopes the new laws will make Alberta’s roads safer.

He said, “It provides additional tools for law enforcement and additional sanctions which I think will help to reduce the incidence of impaired driving.And I’m very hopeful that it will reduce the incidence of serious injury and death as a result of impaired driving.”


Previous legislation allowed officers to administer tickets for drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 or higher, but now they can issue a 90-day licence suspension.

An earlier law that allowed licences of impaired drivers to be suspended indefinitely was ruled unconstitutional by the Alberta Court of Appeal in May 2017.

With the new legislation, a 90-day licence suspension will be followed by a one-year ignition interlock program, in which drivers will have to pass an in-car breathalyzer test before starting their vehicles.

The law also introduces zero tolerance for cannabis for drivers with a learner or probationary licence. Once federal cannabis legislation is approved, there will be specific limits introduced for drivers with regular licences.

Beaumont resident Sheri Arsenault, whose son Bradley was killed by a drunk driver in 2011, said she doesn’t have any problems with the changes introduced Monday, but fears they will lay the groundwork for Alberta to follow in the footsteps of British Columbia.

“There will be more people willing to drive impaired because the sanctions are less severe,” she said. “There’s no criminal record attached, and to me, that is the biggest deterrent.”

Edmonton lawyer Shannon Gunn Emery, who handles impaired driving cases, said decriminalizing impaired driving would be a financially motivated move that could help clear out Alberta’s court system.