Impaired Driving in Alberta

Alberta has some of the toughest penalties in Canada for impaired driving.

Minimum Criminal Penalties

Impaired driving is a criminal offence codified in Criminal Code of Canada, Section 253. It carries the following federal minimums (in place if a person's BAC level is above 0.08):

  • 1st offence – Fine of $1000
  • 2nd offence – 30 days in jail
  • 3rd or more offence – 120 days in jail

Furthermore, drivers convicted under the Criminal Code of Canada may not drive, even with an ignition interlock system, for the following periods:

  • 1st offence - 3 months after the day on which sentence is imposed
  • 2nd offence - 6 months after the day on which sentence is imposed
  • each subsequent offence - 12 months after the day on which sentence is imposed

The Ignition Interlock System

Drivers that are convicted of impaired driving under Section 253, 254, or 255 of the Criminal Code of Canada in Alberta must install an ignition interlock system for the following period:

  • First offense: One year
  • Second Offense: Three years
  • Third Offense: Five years

The convicted impaired driver in Alberta must pay the following fees to have an ignition interlock system installed:

  • Application fee: $63
  • Installation fee: $150
  • Rental fee for the ignition interlock device (monthly): $105
  • Removal of the device: $50

In additional to the federal minimums, impaired driving in Alberta also carries administrative (provincial) penalties in the forms of license suspensions and impoundment.

Administrative Penalties for Impaired Driving

If you are stopped by an officer while driving and blow over a 0.08, you face the following administrative (provincial) penalties.

  • First offense: license suspension until charges are resolved, three day vehicle impoundment and mandatory "Planning Ahead" class.
  • Second or greater offense: license suspension until charges are resolved, seven day vehicle impoundment and mandatory "Impact" class.

In 2012, Alberta passed a new set of laws that created consequences for impaired driving with a blood alcohol content of between 0.05 to 0.08. If you blow between 0.05 and 0.08, you face the following administrative (provincial) penalties.

  • First Offense: Immediate three day license suspension and three day vehicle impoundment.
  • Second Offense: Immediate 15 day license suspension, seven day vehicle impoundment and mandatory "Planning Ahead" class.
  • Third Offense: Immediate 30-day license suspension, seven day vehicle impoundment and mandatory "Impact" class.

Furthermore, GLD drivers (new drivers) with any amount of blood alcohol concentration will face the following penalties.

  • Immediate license suspended for thirty days and their car will be impounded for seven days.

The "Planning Ahead" Class

The Planning Ahead class is a one day class for first time impaired driving offenders offered by the Alberta Motor Association. The course is held throughout the province between 8:15 and 4:00 pm from Monday to Thursday. The cost of this course is $220.

The "Impact" Class

The Impact class is held for repeat impaired driving offenders. It is a week-long program where participants undergo assessment and help for alcohol or drug addition. It is held in Edmonton, Calgary, Claresholm and Grande Prairie. It runs from Friday at 3pm to Sunday at 4:00 pm. The cost, which includes food and accomodaiton, is $750.

Driving with a suspended license

When your license is suspended due to impaired driving, you are no longer able to legally drive in Alberta. If you do so, you face the following penalties:

  • An addition six -month license suspension
  • Vehicle impoundment for 30 days for a first offense and 60 days for a second offense
  • A $2000 fine. If not paid, the driver faces up to six months in jail

Vehicle Impounding

The driver has the pay for the towing and impoundment of their vehicle. Towing fees average about $116 and impounding fees are usually at least $30 for every day the vehicle is impounded.

For more information on impaired driving in Alberta, visit Alberta's government website Know Your Limits.