What is Impaired Driving?

Policeman performing sobriety test on driver

It has happened many times before: a person gets pulled over and finds themselves charged with impaired driving, even though they have no idea what they did wrong. They might have had a few drinks, but were in complete control of the vehicle – or so they thought.

If you drive, it’s important to understand impaired driving, the laws around it and what to do if you are charged. Our guide can help you.

Your Guide to Impaired Driving in Alberta 

What is Impaired Driving?


According to the Criminal Code of Canada, impaired driving is defined as not having the ability to drive safely in a vehicle due to impairment. In most cases, the impairment is due to consumption of alcohol, the use of cannabis, or other illegal drug substances. 

However, some cases of impairment include sleepiness, distractions (such as using a mobile phone), and if you have any medical conditions, which impact your driving ability. 

What are the Legal Limits? 

Canada has legal limits that the province of Alberta must abide by. As stated by the Government of Canada, These include the following: 

      • Alcohol – which has a legal limit of “80 milligrams or more (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood” when assessing your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). 

      • Cannabis (THC) – which has a legal limit of “2 nanograms (ng) and 5 ng of THC per ml of blood”. It is considered a serious offence if you have “5 ng of THC or more per ml of blood”.

      • Alcohol/Cannabis – the legal combination of these substances is no more than “50mg or more of alcohol per 100ml blood and 2.5 ng or more of THC per ml of blood”.

      • Illegal Substances – LSD, mushrooms, cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, PCP, heroin are illegal and you are prohibited from driving within two hours of consumption. 


    What are the Punishments for Impaired Driving?

    Firstly, it’s important to understand that you might face double the penalties for impaired driving. One is the criminal charge laid by the Government of Canada; the other is by the IRS (Immediate Roads Sanctions) administered by Albertan law enforcement.

    The severity of the punishments depends on your previous record and the current charge. First-time offenders usually face minor consequences, such as fines, driving suspension and more. Second and third-time offenders also face hefty fines and lifetime suspensions, by might also partake in driving programs and go to jail, for a maximum of 10 years. 

    Therefore, it’s important to understand your situation and what punishments you might face in the process. 

    How to Respond to Impaired Driving Charges?

    Whether you are innocent or not, it’s important to contact a DUI lawyer in Calgary as soon as possible to help your case. 

    In many cases, individuals might not realize they are impaired when driving, a silly mistake that shouldn’t result in them losing their livelihood. In other situations, law enforcement has not properly followed protocols or procedures, resulting in unfair charges against people. Once again, the mistakes of others shouldn’t impact individuals. 

    Getting a DUI lawyer on your side quicker than ever can help your case and ensure you do not face hefty punishments, such as jail time. Alberta Criminal Defence Lawyers are those lawyers, ready to help you.


    Joel Chevrefils of Alberta Criminal Defence Lawyers is here to defend you against all criminal charges. When charged with a criminal offence, such as impaired driving, domestic violence, or DUI, the first thing you should do is call your trusted Calgary criminal defence lawyer. His professionalism can help you with all concerns regarding your charges and the complex nature of Canada’s legal system. Chevrefils can help you with your charges in and outside Calgary, including Provincial Courts in Cochrane, Airdrie, Okotoks, Red Deer and Edmonton. Trust your case to Calgary’s most experienced criminal lawyer. Call Alberta Criminal Defence Lawyers today at (403) 830-1980.

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