July 1st – the sparks will fly but not necessarily from Canada Day fireworks. Albertans enter a very grave change in driving legislation that puts our constitutional rights of being innocent until proven guilty to the test. The province’s Minster of Transportation, Ric McIver is quoted on the new impaired legislation to say “I am not sure they’re automatically guilty but they automatically start to pay the consequences.”

The consequences are listed below and the implementation dates are shown:

Starting July 1, 2012 for drivers with blood alcohol over .08:

Criminal Charge
Immediate license suspension which is sustained until criminal charge is resolved
1st charge: sustained license suspension, 7 day vehicle seizure, “Planning Ahead” course
2nd charge: sustained license suspension, 7 day vehicle seizure, “Impact” course
3rd charge: sustained license suspension, 7 day vehicle seizure, “Impact” course
Mandatory ignition interlock after criminal conviction: 1 year for 1st conviction, 3 years for 2nd conviction, 5 years for 3rd conviction

Starting September 1, 2012 for drivers with blood alcohol .05 to 0.8:

1st offence: 3 day license suspension and 3-day vehicle seizure
2nd offence: 15 day license suspension, 7-day vehicle seizure, “Planning Ahead” course
3rd offence: 30 day license suspension, 7-day vehicle seizure, “Impact” course

Timothy Dunlap was interviewed by the Calgary Sun on these new charges that drivers face and said “There will certainly be a court fight on the .08 guilty-until-proven-innocent indefinite suspension. Come July 1, attempts will be made to get suspensions put on hold until there’s a ruling from a high enough court on whether the province’s move is legal. There have already been many discussions among impaired driving lawyers and privately even some Crown prosecutors don’t like the new law. The government has gone too far and tied it to court proceedings. I think you’ll see a lot of people lawyering up of those charged starting July 1.”

One of the biggest problems that the accused of an impaired charge faces is being heard within a reasonable length of time. Most courts in Alberta are backlogged between six to ten months, some even well over a year before the individual will have their day in court and the right to be proven innocent.

Timothy Dunlap further commented to the Calgary Sun on the 0.05 law saying, “a whole lot of people have been told drinking responsibility is staying under the legal limit. Now the province is going after them with vehicle and license seizures and towing and storage bills, and beginning the second time a person is driving over 0.05 courses paid out of pocket. Some already speculate if the 0.05 law isn’t as successful as the province wants penalties could be stiffened. When people are standing at the end of Deerfoot and finally see their car getting towed away that’s when the light bulb goes on.”