On Sept. 1, the Government of Alberta increased administrative penalties for drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .05 to .08.
Alberta has been using the .05 guideline for more than 12 years. Since 1999, a driver with a BAC in this range receives a 24-hour suspension. This sanction has not been stopping people from getting behind the wheel after drinking. Over the past five years, more than 42,000 24-hour suspensions were issued across Alberta.
The sanction for a BAC of .05 to .08 has changed to a three-day suspension and a three-day vehicle seizure for the first offence. For subsequent offences, the length of the licence suspension will increase, the length of the vehicle seizure will increase and an educational course will be required. A hearing with the Alberta Transportation Safety Board may be required for a second offence and becomes mandatory for third and subsequent offences.
An appeal process is in place. At the roadside, a driver can request a second breath test from a second approved breath-testing device. Also, licence suspensions longer than three days and vehicle seizures longer than three days may be appealed through the Alberta Transportation Safety Board.
The aim is not to prevent responsible Albertans from enjoying a drink at dinner. Rather, the new administrative penalties are designed to deter drinking drivers at a lower level of impairment and help reach them before they get to .08.