Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs, referred to as impaired driving, is a serious offence in Alberta, with rigorous enforcement. DUI can be dangerous and deadly. According to statistics, alcohol was a factor in 1 in 5 drivers involved in fatal car crashes. Consequently, in 2020, Alberta increased enforcement of DUI through the Immediate Roadside Sanctions Program, with lower blood alcohol concentrations needed to prosecute and heavier penalties. While the Immediate Roadside Suspension program is the most common way that police deal with DUI, it is still possible to be charged criminally.
Driving privileges are so important, and the appeal periods from a licence suspension under the Immediate Roadside Suspension program are so short that it is essential to engage the services of an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible. You only have seven days from the time you were issued the Notice of Administrative Penalty to appeal your suspension.
No one wants to work around a licence suspension or pay exorbitant insurance premiums because you are now part of the high-risk pool. At Bulwark Law, we have the skills, experience, and reputation for providing high-quality legal services with compassion and rigour.
What Is DUI in Calgary?
Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act imposes sanctions on drivers with a blood alcohol concentration between .05% and .079%. These are levels below the criminal level of .08. The impact of enforcement of driving under the influence for lower blood alcohol concentrations is supported by data from other provinces, where fatalities in alcohol-related car accidents were reduced dramatically, up to 64% in Prince Edward Island.
Under the Traffic Safety Act’s Immediate Roadside Suspension program, police or other law enforcement officers have the authority to suspend your licence and seize your vehicle without any judicial hearing. Police have the authority to suspend your licence and seize your motor vehicle if you refuse to comply with orders roadside to produce your licence, registration, and proof of insurance or to refuse to take a breath test.
With driving such an essential economic privilege, immediate action is needed if you have lost your licence and had your motor vehicle seized.
What Are the Potential Consequences of a DUI Charge?
Alberta has added to the penalties for a conviction for DUI. For the first offence in a 10-year period, there will be an immediate 90-day driver’s licence suspension and an additional one-year driving suspension where you must agree to an Ignition Interlock Program as a condition for continued driving privileges. Your vehicle will be seized for 30 days, and to get it back, you must participate in a Planning Ahead course. A 20% victim fine surcharge is added to the $1,000 fine.
A second offence also results in a 30-day vehicle seizure, an increased fine of $2,000, and a 20% victim fine surcharge. Licence suspension is three years unless you agree to an Ignition Interlock Program. A third offence results in a licence suspension for life.
An ignition interlock device may be installed in your vehicle, and multiple conditions placed on your licence for a period of time after your DUI conviction. That means you cannot start your car without passing an in-vehicle breath test, registering under .05 blood alcohol concentration.
DUI can also be prosecuted criminally, and this is commonly done where an accident resulted, a person was injured or killed, or the defendant has been previously convicted of DUI. A criminal conviction for DUI carries with it all the stigma of a criminal record, which impacts your ability to seek employment and professional licencing, obtain financing, and travel, especially into the United States. For permanent residents, a DUI conviction can affect your right as an immigrant to remain in Canada legally. The DUI conviction is recorded in the Canadian Police Information System so that any future stops will highlight your past driving record. A DUI on your driving record can also skyrocket your insurance premiums.
How Can a DUI Lawyer Help You?
With a limited appeal period from an Immediate Roadside Suspension, it is important for you to contact an experienced DUI lawyer right away. You only have seven days from the time you were issued the Notice of Administrative Penalty to appeal your suspension. The appeal form can be obtained and submitted online, but it should be completed by an experienced DUI lawyer to preserve your right to appeal and to obtain copies of all of the relevant police reports.
Whether charged with a criminal DUI offence or refusing to submit to a breath test roadside, there are ways to defend your actions. A skilled DUI lawyer can cross-examine police officers to ensure they are properly trained to administer a breathalyzer test. Many times the actual devices are not maintained and serviced properly, which can inhibit accuracy. When blood alcohol is measured in terms of when you might have been drinking and when you were driving also needs to be examined to determine whether the test results accurately reflect your state while you were behind the wheel. And questioning what the police officer observed and whether any appearance of impairment was the result of allergies, smoke, or fatigue is an important avenue to explore.
You should never try to represent yourself when facing the full force of the Crown’s authority. Instead, you need to remain silent and hire an experienced DUI lawyer right away to protect your rights and help construct an effective defence. A skilled DUI lawyer knows how to investigate the police and challenge their methods of securing evidence and witness testimony.
In addition, a knowledgeable DUI lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors on criminal charges, develop a viable strategy, and get ready for trial if necessary. Prosecutors who face defence lawyers with a credible record of success are more likely to consider withdrawing charges or charging lesser offences.
You need a rigorous defence from the start of any criminal prosecution for DUI. Your future and that of your family are on the line.
Contact Bulwark Law Today
When facing DUI charges, your freedom and future hang in the balance. Bulwark Law can help. Our lawyers are knowledgeable, compassionate and skilled, and we have a reputation among prosecutors and judges in Calgary, and throughout Alberta, for fierce representation. We know how to get the best results for our clients. Call us today at 403 678 7360 or complete the contact form to arrange your free initial consultation.