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Everyone knows that you should never drive drunk.  If you drink, leave your keys and take a cab.  We hear this over and over again on commercials, radio ads and see this very message posted in bars and pubs.

What happens if you do not think you are drunk?  What happens if you think you can handle driving home?  What happens when you see those red and blue lights flashing in your rear-view mirror?  There are different degrees of impairment that some may find confusing but it’s best to know what they mean in advance to find out what your rights are when it comes to driving and alcohol consumption.

As a prominent example, it is not uncommon for the terms “Impaired Driving” and “Driving Over 80” to be confused.  The reason is that both these charges are often laid together but they have different meanings.

Driving Over 80:

It is a criminal offence in Canada to operate a motor vehicle when the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is more than 80mg of alcohol per 100 mL of blood.

Blood alcohol concentration depends on a number of factors including how much alcohol was consumed, how much time has passed since the most recent drink, gender, weight, how the body absorbs alcohol and eliminates it.

Impaired Driving:

Impaired driving does not depend on the blood alcohol level at all.  It simply means that the driver’s ability to operate the motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Federal Consequences:

What is confusing is that someone may be charged with impaired driving when their BAC is below 80mg.  At the same time, another driver may be charged with Driving Over 80 but not be impaired at all.  This really comes down to alcohol tolerance.  In fact, toxicologists have found that some people may be impaired from less than 50mg of alcohol per 100mL of blood while others can tolerate much higher than 80mg of alcohol per 100mL before becoming impaired.

If the driver is found to have a Blood Alcohol Concentration over 80mg, they will be charged with that.  If their BAC is below 80 but there is evidence of impairment including weaving, or an accident then they will face an Impaired Driving Charge.

If you are found guilty of criminal-level impaired driving (Over 80), you may be required to:

  • Complete a driving prohibition. The prohibition time may vary depending on the offence.
  • Pay fees such as reinstatement fees.
  • Complete remedial education courses.
  • Successfully participate in the Mandatory Interlock Program.
  • Successfully complete a roadside test.

Provincial Consequences:

In Alberta, like most provinces, if a driver is found to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.050 and 0.079 they will face Provincial consequences.

1. First time within a 10-year period:

  • an immediate 3-day driver’s license suspension
  • a 3-day vehicle seizure

2. Second time within a 10-year period:

  • an immediate 15-day driver’s license suspension
  • a 7-day vehicle seizure
  • Crossroads course

3. Third and subsequent times within a 10-year period:

  • an immediate 30-day driver’s license suspension
  • a 7-day vehicle seizure
  • IMPACT program

How Can Kolinsky Law Help?

Our dedicated team of criminal lawyers work to help those charged with a crime and provide them with legal advice.  In cases of Impaired Driving or Driving Over 80, the penalties can be serious.  This is where we come in.  The lawyers at Kolinsky Law have what it takes to guide you through the process and work to get you the best possible results.