Alberta’s new, tougher impaired driving laws are in effect — here’s what you need to know

Those caught driving under the influence in Alberta will face stricter penalties starting Dec. 1, 2020 — including steep fines and having their vehicle seized for up to 30 days.

Under the new impaired driving laws outlined in Bill 21, the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act, significant penalties will be handed out roadside including fines up to $2,000.

Repeat offenders will now face a mandatory education program and mandatory ignition interlock.

Read more: Alberta government imposing steep penalties but no charges on most first-time impaired drivers

In the most serious cases, including impaired driving causing bodily harm or death, individuals will still receive criminal charges on top of the other penalties.

New zero-tolerance consequences for novice drivers and commercial drivers will also be introduced.

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While most first-time offenders won’t necessarily face a criminal charge, their cases would instead be handled outside of court through SafeRoads Alberta — a new adjudication branch that will allow drivers to pay their fees online, request more time to pay their penalty or dispute their vehicle seizure.

“SafeRoads Alberta will help get impaired drivers off the road and free up court and police resources — allowing police to focus on keeping our communities safe and the courts to focus on the most serious matters,” Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu said in a news release.

Read more: Officers will not demand at-home breath samples without cause: Edmonton police

“SafeRoads Alberta will deliver a fast and efficient way to pay for first-time impaired driving charges, but if you get behind the wheel impaired, the toughest and swiftest penalties in Canada are waiting,” Transportation Minister Ric McIver said.

“These moves make Alberta roads safer and get police back fighting rural and urban crime instead of stuck in the courts.”

The president of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police, Dale McFee, said he applauds the new rules —which are modelled after what’s been done in British Columbia for years.

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“This proven system of addressing impaired driving will reduce the time our officers and the courts must commit to dealing with these serious offences while still holding impaired drivers accountable,” McFee said.

Read more: Canada’s new impaired driving laws are now in effect — here’s what to know

“This allows our officers to spend more time focusing on the community to reduce crime and victimization. In addition, it has been shown that dealing with impairment with sanctions to the subject’s vehicle in the first instance drastically reduces future offences.”

MADD Canada, meanwhile, is also welcoming the new rules.

“These measures deliver strong, immediate penalties and sanctions to those individuals who continue to disregard the law and put lives in danger by driving impaired,” MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie said. “They will reduce impaired driving and save lives.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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