What are the New Impaired Driving Laws in Canada?

What are the New Impaired Driving Laws in Canada

Canada has recently implemented stricter laws to combat impaired driving. They updated the law to improve road safety and stop drivers from driving under the influence. Hence, we will break down everything from license suspensions to blood alcohol limits in this blog to explore the new impaired driving laws in Canada.

What is Impaired Driving Laws?

Impaired driving refers to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Impaired driving can significantly impair your judgment, reaction time, and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents.

Impaired Driving Punishments in Alberta

Alberta imposes various penalties for impaired driving, depending on the severity of the offence and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). These consequences can include four things:

  • Seizure of vehicle
  • Driving License Seizure
  • Imposition of Fine
  • Imprisonment

Seizure of Vehicle

After driving under the influence, the accused will face restrictions in using the vehicle. If you do so, the police can take your car for 30 days. They will leave you inconvenienced on top of the risk you pose.

Driving License Seizure

After getting the vehicle seized, you may face a license suspension. The license might be cancelled forever. The suspension time increases each time impaired drivers get convicted.

Imposition of Fine

The fine is a more basic way of punishing the offender. The amount will be increased to $1000. But, for 2nd-time offences, the fine rate will be increased.


Jail time is not automatic for the first offence, but you could face jail time if you cause serious injury or show intent to harm. According to the Crown, jail time is required to discourage the dangerous act.

Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS)

The IRS program categorizes impaired driving offences based on BAC levels. Each category carries specific sanctions:

  • FAIL Program: 

Applies to BAC levels exceeding 0.08. Offenders must attend a mandatory education program and may face license suspension.

  • WARN Program: 

Applies to a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08. Offenders receive a warning and may have their license suspended temporarily.

  • ZERO Program: Novice: 

License suspension and education programs are mandatory for novice drivers with any BAC level.

  • ZERO Program: Commercial: 

Commercial drivers face immediate license suspension for any BAC level.

  • 24-Hour Program: 

Drivers with a BAC exceeding legal limits face vehicle seizure and a mandatory 24-hour license suspension.

Alberta Impaired Driving First Offence

Even a first-time offence can have serious consequences. Penalties typically involve license suspension, fines, and participation in the FAIL program.

New Impaired Driving Law Facts

  1. The confirmed alcohol screening can only be used if the driver controls the car, stops by order, and the police officer approves the screening device at hand.
  2. Police have long had the power to stop drivers from checking to see if they have a valid licence if they are sober, and if their vehicle is roadworthy. They don’t need to see you do anything wrong.
  3. For mandatory alcohol screening to be used:
  • The car must be lawfully stopped
  • The driver must be in care and control of the car
  • The police officer must keep the device on hand
  1. The new law covers the situation where drivers can be convicted with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or over 80 mg within 2 hours of driving. This action change addressed risky behavior on our roads.
  2. Many drivers become impaired before reaching a blood alcohol concentration of 80 mg. Police can still charge him with impaired driving, and they may face serious provincial consequences, like losing their license.

What is the Alberta Alcohol Limit for Blood Alcohol?

The legal blood alcohol limit in Alberta is 0.08. Drivers must remember that even a small amount of alcohol can impair their driving ability to an uncontrollable level.

What are the Results of Drinking after Driving?

Alberta’s impaired driving laws became tougher. Now, police can charge you with DUI (Driving Under the Influence) even if you drank after driving. Police can request breath samples for up to two hours after you have stopped driving.

Therefore, blowing over the legal limit (0.08) can lead to criminal charges. So, even if you drive sober and then have a drink later, you could be charged with DUI if the police suspect impaired driving and you test over the limit.

Comparison of Previous vs. New Penalties under Bill C-46

OffencePrevious LegislationBill C-46
Dangerous OperationUp to 5 yearsUp to 10 years
Dangerous Operation Causing Bodily HarmUp to 10 yearsUp to 14 years
Dangerous Operation Causing DeathUp to 14 yearsLife imprisonment
Operation While Impaired (general)Up to 5 yearsUp to 18 months
Operation While Impaired (low blood drug concentration)Up to $1,000 fineNot Applicable
Operation While Impaired Causing Bodily HarmUp to 10 yearsUp to 14 years
Operation While Impaired Causing DeathLife imprisonmentLife imprisonment
Failure or Refusal to Comply (general)Up to 5 yearsUp to 10 years
Failure or Refusal to Comply Causing Bodily HarmUp to 10 yearsUp to 14 years
Failure or Refusal to Comply Causing DeathLife imprisonmentLife imprisonment


Canada’s new impaired driving laws are designed to make the roads safer. All individuals must understand these regulations and the significant consequences of driving under the influence. This way, the people can play a role in preventing accidents and keeping the communities safe. 


What is the legal limit for impaired drivers in Canada?

Canada’s legal BAC limit is 0.08. That means for fully licensed drivers, having 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (or blowing over 0.08) is a criminal offence with serious penalties.

What is the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death in Canada?

In Canada, impaired driving causing death carries the heaviest penalty, which is life in prison. It’s important to note this is the maximum sentence, and judges have discretion in sentencing based on the case.

Is Impaired Driving Zero Tolerance in Alberta?

Alberta has zero tolerance for impaired driving for certain licenses. New private driver commercial license holders cannot have any alcohol or drugs while operating a vehicle. A law enforcement finding will result in a conviction and immediate license suspension.