Criminal code

If you have been charged with driving while impaired Section 253 (a) of the Criminal Code or Section 253 (b) blood alcohol over .08 or Section 254 refusal to provide a sample, you need to find out if you have a defense. You need to speak to a criminal lawyer immediately. One who specializes in impaired charges.

You should never plead guilty to a charge before you speak with a criminal lawyer who specializes in impaired driving defenses. A conviction will have overwhelming consequences since it will give you a criminal record, a loss of your driving privileges, perhaps loss of your income or even your freedom and 200% insurance increase based on the proposed New Government Rating Plan.

This is far too serious a situation to deal with by yourself or based on information your friends have given you. One of the most common mistakes a person charged with impaired driving is to try to ascertain the outcome based on what you have heard others tell you from their own experience. Every impaired driving case is unique and the situations are never identical therefore the outcome in trial will vary depending upon your own facts and your own legal issues involved in the charge against you.


What can a lawyer who specializes in impaired charges do for you?
  1. First they will obtain disclosure which is all the information that the police have regarding your charge(s).
  2. Secondly the information will be scrutinized for any errors and charter rights which may have been neglected.
  3. Experts witnesses will be retained if beneficial to your case.
  4. They can negotiate with the Crown Prosecutor for a lesser offense or reduced sentence or the exclusion of evidence that may damage your case.
  5. Lastly if the matter does go to trial they can argue your case and present the most effective defense possible.
What are the penalties for an impaired charge?

First Offence Is:

A minimum fine of $600.00, plus a victim surcharge, minimum one year driving prohibition (which can be reduced to three months if you are granted a court order allowing you use of the alcohol ignition interlock device).

Second Offence Within Seven Years Of The First Offence Is:

A minimum of 14 days in jail, minimum of three-year driving prohibition (which can be reduced if you are granted a court order allowing you use of the alcohol ignition interlock device).

Third Offence And All Subsequent Offences Within Seven Years Of The First Offence Is:

A minimum of 90 days in jail and a driving prohibition of at least three years.

What you will need to do if convicted prior to getting you licence back

The Alberta Driver’s Control Board requires that all those people who have been convicted of impaired driving complete one of two courses through the Alberta Driving Program. You can contact them at 1 – 800 – 272 – 5698 for information on dates and times of these courses. Since these courses must be completed prior to the reinstatement of your license it is suggested that you make arrangements to attend prior to end of your license suspension.

Planning Ahead is a one day course available for first time impaired drivers. The course is held between 8:15 – 4:00 P.M. Monday – Thursday in various locations throughout the province. The cost is $105.00 for this course.

Impact is a weekend course, which is held in Edmonton, Calgary, Claresholm and Grande Prairie. The course runs from Friday at 3:00 P.M. until Sunday at 4:00 P.M. Those attending must stay on site for the duration of the course. The cost is $205.00 which includes meals and accommodation.

Upon completion of the course, every driver must complete a driving examination and pay a license reinstatement fee of approximately $145.35.

What is the Alberta Ignition Interlock Program?

It is a program designed to allow people convicted of impaired driving the opportunity to drive while completely sober. The court must authorize the use of the interlock device and the Driver’s Control Board must approve the individual’s participation in the program.

If accepted the individual must have this alcohol-sensing device attached to their vehicle’s ignition system. If the device detects a pre-set level of alcohol the vehicle will not start. Those taking part in this program must bring their vehicle to the installer at least every 60 days where the equipment will be inspected and the recorded information sent to the Driver’s Control Board.

If the device has recorded an attempt to drive with alcohol in individual’s system the Driver’s Control Board will be advised and individual may be withdrawn from the program. Reinstatement of a participant’s unrestricted driving privileges at the end of the suspension period depends on their performance during the program. The applicant must first serve all license suspensions other than the current alcohol-related suspension before enrolling in the program. Repeat or subsequent offenders may participate if granted permission by the court, however those convicted of impaired driving causing injury or death under Section 255 of the Criminal Code are not eligible.

The approximate costs for the interlock system are:

  • $125.00 plus GST for installation of the interlock device
  • $95.00 plus GST per month rental

You will be asked to sign a contract to pay the rental fees for the entire length of your driving prohibition excluding the first three months prior to acceptance into the program. These rental fees will be due even if you should later be suspended from driving for another offense.

Contact us today for a free consulation. This is the first step in trying to put your life back on track, you need an expert’s advice!

Warren Pearson has many years of experience specializing in impaired driving charges. Initial consultation is free.