Impaired Driving Law in Alberta Part 2: New Administrative Licence Suspensions

In our last blog post in this series, we reviewed the legal context of impaired driving laws, the history of administrative licence suspensions, and the Sahaluk court cases. In this, our second blog post in this series, we review the new provincial Administrative Licence Suspension laws and their impact.

Sahaluk v Alberta (Transportation Safety Board), 2017 ABCA 153

As we explained in our first post in this series, in 2017, the Alberta Court of Appeal struck down the Province’s administrative licence suspension law. The Court of Appeal gave the Province one year to put a new law into place. The Province did not appeal the decision, and so the countdown began for Alberta to have a new Administrative Licence Suspension scheme.

Amendments to the Traffic Safety Act

In April of 2018, new provincial administrative licence suspension laws came in to effect in Alberta.

As of April 9, 2018, where a driver:

  • has a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher;
  • is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs; or
  • fails or refuses to comply with a demand for breath or blood sample

their licence will immediately be completely suspended for 90 days. During these 90 days, the person will not be allowed to drive at all. After the 90 days have elapsed they will receive a further 1 year driving suspension. During this year, the person may be able to drive if they participate in the Alberta Ignition Interlock Program. If the person refuses to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program, their licence will remain suspended for the whole year and they will not have the ability to drive legally.

The Impact of the New Law

These provincial suspensions do not displace the Criminal Code penalties that a person might also receive for impaired driving. A person who is stopped for impaired driving may face both an administrative licence suspension under the Traffic Safety Act, and be banned from driving under the Criminal Code if charged criminally and convicted.

While it may be possible to speculate on the law’s potential impacts on individuals with licence suspensions or facing criminal impaired charges, or on the overall numbers of impaired drivers on the road in Alberta, the real impact is still somewhat unknown. However, at present, it is looking as though the change in the law may have some impact on sentencing, such as in R v Ludwig, 2018 ABPC 122. What other impacts this change in law will have remains to be seen.


The information provided on this website does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. Moustarah & Company does not guarantee that this information is accurate or up to date. As a result, should you require legal advice, please contact a  lawyer.