Alberta Strengthens Consequences For Impaired Driving

Bill 26 balances prevention and education with tougher sanctions

November 21, 2011 – Edmonton – With 96 deaths and 1,384 injuries caused by impaired driving on Alberta roads last year, Alberta has introduced new legislation aimed at improving safety on the province’s roads.

Bill 26, the Alberta Traffic Safety Amendment Act 2011, introduced in the Alberta Legislature by Transportation Minister Ray Danyluk, imposes tougher sanctions on impaired drivers, especially repeat offenders.

“Not only does Alberta’s approach target repeat offenders, it is designed to reduce the number of drivers who become repeat offenders in the first place,” said Danyluk. “I have one goal for this legislation – and that is having more Albertans arrive home safe at the end of the day.”

Alberta’s approach is based on research into actions that change behaviours. It introduces differing levels of response for differing situations, from hard sanctions for repeat offenders to consequence-based actions for first-time offenders. Education is a big component with the addition of enhanced monitoring and mandatory education and treatment programs for repeat offences. Alberta also proposes vehicle seizures as a meaningful consequence to influence driver behaviour.

Bill 26 proposes the toughest sanctions for drivers with a blood-alcohol content over .08, the legal limit under the Criminal Code. For example, these drivers would now have an immediate license suspension that remains in place until their criminal conviction is resolved in the courts. Upon conviction, they would also have to participate in the Mandatory Ignition Interlock program.

While 24-hour license suspensions can currently be given to drivers with a BAC from .05 up to .08, the Bill proposes progressive sanctions for drivers in this range. To support the proposed legislation, new regulatory changes would also enhance restrictions for novice drivers.

The Bill was championed by Danyluk along with Attorney General and Minister of Justice Verlyn Olson and Minister of Solicitor General and Public Security Jonathan Denis. This integrated approach balances enforcement with education and prevention, while maintaining a process to address appeals.

“Suspensions for drivers between .05 and .08 are nothing new in Alberta,” said Olson. “What this legislation would introduce are new education programs and sanctions for these drivers, new mechanisms to track repeat offenders and new, tougher, penalties for drivers who are caught over .08.”

“Alberta’s approach targets those most likely to repeatedly drive drunk,” said Denis. “It’s about changing driver behaviour through enforcing tougher sanctions.”

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