It all comes down to the fact that no one has a constitutional right to drive, or at least that’s what an Alberta judge has decided on as a basis for his ruling against a group of Alberta motorists. The group wanted to strike down a section of the Traffic Safety Amendment Act dealing with driver’s license suspensions after an impaired driving charge, but the judge upheld the law as constitutional.
Alberta used to have driver’s license suspensions that were set at 24 hours after an impaired driving charge. The driver then had a three-week grace period in which they could drive and get their affairs in order before a 90-day suspension kicked in.
Those laws are pretty lax in comparison to the impaired driving laws Alberta passed in 2012. First offenders in Alberta will now receive an immediate driver’s license suspension and a 3-day vehicle seizure. The suspension remains in effect until the criminal charge of impaired driving is resolved, and that could take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years. That’s why the group of motorists decided to join together and try to strike down the changes, because if you drink and drive in Alberta, you could be without a license for a long, long time.
These severe laws are put in place to protect all drivers in Alberta, and in the case of impaired driving the penalties really do fit the crime. From 2006 to 2010, there were 569 Albertans killed and over 8,000 injured in alcohol-related crashes. That’s a lot of lives that could have been saved by preventing drunk drivers from driving, period.
Beyond the indefinite period of driver’s license suspension, Alberta also has a mandatory ignition interlock program for all offenders. A first offender will be required to use an ignition interlock for one year after his or her criminal conviction. If they are a repeat offender, they could be required to use the device for up to 5 years.
People who drink and drive may not like the penalties Alberta levies for an impaired driving charge, but they’re designed to keep all people safe from drunk drivers. Let’s hope judges in the Province of Alberta stand their ground and continue to strike down challenges to these laws.