Some Driving Mistakes Can Have Criminal Consequences

Criminal Law: Overview of Traffic-Related Offences

Civil Law versus Criminal Law Most traffic activity in the province is regulated in the civil realm through the Traffic Safety Act, including such things as:

· distracted driving,

· careless driving,

· speeding,

· and more

Depending on the type of offence, you could face a fine and demerit points that would appear on your driver’s abstract that is kept with the Alberta registries.

However, there are some types of conduct that when committed with intention or recklessness can amount to a criminal offense in Canadian law under our Criminal Code. This means that if you are convicted of the charges, they could appear on your criminal record as opposed to simply appearing on your driver’s abstract.

Consequences of Criminal Convictions

Criminal convictions carry serious consequences that affect your ability to:

· work,

· travel,

· and other freedoms

For those who hold permanent resident or refugee status, a criminal conviction can also impact your ability to even stay in Canada.

Types of Criminal Driving Offences

Some types of intentional or reckless conduct are well-known for being offenses under the Criminal Code: such as if you were to:

· drive a car while impaired by drugs or alcohol (section 320.14), as well as any accidents you may cause as a result of that,

· drive a car in a dangerous manner to the public (section 320.13), and again, for any accidents you may cause as a result of that,

· fail to stop without reasonable excuse for an officer who is pursuing you (section 320.17)

However, perhaps a lesser-known criminal offence is if you fail to stop after an accident your car is involved in – section 320.16(1). Indeed, this section requires that if you’re involved in an accident – unless you have a reasonable excuse – you must stop your car, give your name and address information to the other people at the scene, and offer assistance to any person who seems injured or seems like they need help.

There are further consequences if you fail to remain at a scene where your car was involved in an accident that hurt someone (section 320.16(2)) or that resulted in someone’s death (section 320.16(3)). Note that there are also specific sections that result in charges where you failed to stop for an accident you were involved in where you were impaired by drugs or alcohol.

The Criminal Code is thorough in that if your car was involved in an accident, you should just stop and remain on the scene.

An Example from Our Case Law In the recent 2023 Manitoba case of R v Goodman (T.S.), Tyler Goodman, the accused (i.e. the person who was convicted of the charges), pled guilty to driving while impaired which resulted in the death of Jordyn Reimer, and he also pled guilty for failing to stop and remain at the scene. Tragically, Jordyn, the deceased, was a designated driver for her friends that night, and was struck by Tyler while she was on her way to pick up one of her friends.

In sentencing Tyler for the convictions, the court sentenced him to six years in jail for the charge of impaired driving resulting in death, as well as a further one year for the charge of failing to remain at the scene. His sentences were to be served consecutively, which means one after the other.

In closing – we encourage you to exercise caution and drive safely out there, and to be aware of the laws that are in place to protect us when certain incidents happen in relation to a car accident.

Insurance Requirements for Uber, Uber Eat, Skip and DoorDash Drivers

Are You Properly Insured as a Food Delivery Driver:

With the rising cost of living, many Albertans have taken on second jobs to help make ends meet. One popular job is that of a food delivery driver. This includes working for popular food delivery Apps such as Uber Eats, SkipTheDishes and DoorDash. However, people may not be fully insured when delivering on these Apps and run the risk of being on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars if they are in an accident.


Do Food Delivery Apps Provide Insurance Coverage:

Auto insurance coverage provided by food delivery Apps in Alberta varies significantly. Regarding the three leading food delivery Apps, Uber Eats is likely the most generous. The insurance coverage provided by UberEats, DoorDash and SkipTheDishes is as follows:

Uber Eats:  Provides $2 million liability insurance when you are delivering for them. However, this coverage is only in place from when you accept a food delivery request to when it is delivered. When you are logged into the UberEats App and waiting for an order, the liability coverage drops to $1 million. Uber also covers loss or physical damage to your vehicle while you are actively available for deliveries on the app. However, there would be a $2500 deductible for this.

DoorDash: According to their website, DoorDash provides only excess third-party auto liability coverage for its drivers during the “delivery service” period. This means the coverage would only apply when a driver has accepted an order and ends when they deliver it. The coverage would only apply after your personal insurance limits have been used. If you do not have valid personal insurance coverage, DoorDash may deny your coverage. Since this coverage only applies during the delivery service period, DoorDash likely will not provide any coverage when you are logged into the app but have not accepted an order. DoorDash offers no coverage for property damage or physical damage to your vehicle.

SkipTheDishes:  They do not provide any insurance coverage and state on their website that it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure they have proper insurance coverage.


Will My Insurance Cover Me:

Many people are surprised to learn that their personal auto insurance policy will likely not cover them if they are working as a food delivery driver. Insurance Companies generally view delivering food with your vehicle as a commercial activity and require you to notify them of this. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, using your vehicle to deliver food means the vehicle is considered a “business-use vehicle.” This would require different coverage than a standard personal insurance policy, such as having additional commercial insurance. If you were to get in an accident without this commercial coverage, your insurance company can cancel your policy.

Furthermore, your insurance company may cancel your policy even if you are not actively making a food delivery. This is because insurance companies believe using your vehicle to deliver food is a change in “material risk” to your insurance policy. Failure to notify them of this change allows insurance companies to deny you coverage, even when you’re not on a delivery.

If you work as a food delivery driver or are thinking of becoming one, it is best to reach out to your insurance company and ensure you have the necessary coverage in place.






Getting into an accident in your home province is difficult enough, but what happens when you are involved in an accident away from home? This blog will explore some of the basics that you should be aware of when traveling.

What laws apply to an out-of-province accident?

The laws that apply to a car accident are the laws of the province where the accident happened. For example, if you are involved in a car accident in BC, the BC rules will apply, even if you are from Alberta. Because each province in Canada has its own automobile insurance system, the rules that apply to an accident outside of Alberta could be very different from the rules that would apply within Alberta.

Am I able to access accident benefits if I am in an accident out-of-province?

After an accident in Alberta, if you have an Alberta automobile insurance policy, you are entitled to benefits called accident benefits or Section B benefits under the Alberta legislation. More information about these benefits can be found here.

However, this may not be the case if you are involved in an accident outside of Alberta. In certain provinces, the Alberta Section B benefits would still be available after an accident, but in other provinces with what is a called a “no fault” system (ex. British Columbia), the benefits you receive will be governed by the applicable legislation in that province.

Can I sue for personal injury after an out-of-province accident?

Because the laws that apply to a car accident are the laws of the province where the accident happened, the law that says whether you are able to sue after an accident will be different depending on what province you are in. For example, if your accident happens in BC, where a no-fault system is in place, you will not be entitled to sue the other driver for damages after the accident.

What should I do after an accident out-of-province?

The steps to take after an accident out-of-province will be similar to those taken after an accident in Alberta. You can read more about these steps here.

However, an additional step that you can take would be speaking with a lawyer from the province where your accident happened who can help you figure out what the laws in that province say about your right to sue and the benefits you might be entitled to after an accident.

Alberta Now Puts Limits on Auto Insurance Hikes “IF YOU ARE A GOOD DRIVER!!”

Changes to Insurance Premium Rates Starting in 2024

Some relief for insurance premium rates is in store for good drivers in Alberta. The Alberta Government is looking into ways to make insurance more easily affordable for Albertans.

What rates will the Alberta government initiate in January 2024?

Starting in January of 2024, drivers with “good records” can only have their premiums increased according to the consumer price index, which is determined in the September of the prior year. That means that starting January 2024, insurance companies cannot increase the premiums for good drivers more than 3.7 percent as according to the consumer price index in September of 2023.

What is considered a bad driver?

The Alberta government will not be protecting those who are considered bad drivers. According to the definitions those who:

  • Have had one or more at fault crashes in the past 6 years
  • Had criminal code convictions during the last 4 years
  • Had major traffic convictions during the last 3 years
  • Had minor traffic convictions in the last 3 years

would be considered bad drivers and in turn are not protected by the same limits on premium incresaes. Those who do not have any of the above listed on their record would be considered a good driver.


Other Changes Coming to Insurance in Alberta

The Automobile Insurance Rate Board (AIRB) is also being given more power by the Alberta government. The AIRB will be able to ask that profits made by insurance companies to be returned to drivers. They will also be able to review and potentially have insurers lower their rates as required.

Further changes to the insurance industry may be in the works now by the Alberta government in an effort to make insurance more affordable.

Winter Driving Tips

Winter Driving: Accidents Happen

The first snowfall can be a shock to the system for many Edmontonians. Winter inevitably catches us by surprise even though we expect it around this time of year. Drivers must adjust their habits overnight and prepare for longer commutes and poor weather conditions for the next several months. Whether we are unprepared or in denial about it, the winter driving season is here.  Drivers must adjust their habits overnight and prepare for longer commutes in poor weather conditions. Of course, the snow and ice also come with an increased risk of getting into an accident, even for experienced winter drivers.

Be Prepared

Being prepared is important when it comes to winter driving. Winterizing your vehicle is one of the ways drivers can decrease the chances of getting into an accident. This includes opting for winter tires seasonally, as well as changing out regular washer fluid for antifreeze, and carrying a reliable snow brush with an ice scraper.

Maintaining the ability to see and be seen can go a long way in dark or snowy conditions. Before driving away, clear the snow and ice from your front and rear windshield, as well as the side windows and mirrors. Ensure your headlights, taillights, and license plate are also clean, and that your windshield wipers are in good condition. Maintaining the air pressure in your tires and checking them whenever you fuel up can help prevent them from going flat in freezing conditions.

Carrying an emergency roadside kit with booster cables, as well as extra gloves, a blanket, or coat, and keeping your vehicle topped up with fuel can also help if you have an accident or become stranded. Keep an extension cord on hand and plug your vehicle in overnight if temperatures dip below -15. A small snow shovel, and sand or kitty litter can also come in handy if you end up stuck in a snowbank.

Don’t Overlook Driving Conditions

While planning ahead is important, adjusting your driving to suit the weather conditions is critical when it comes to winter driving and keeping yourself as well as other motorists safe. Check the forecast the night before to see whether you will need extra time for your morning commute. Plan your route and leave early. Slow down in traffic and increase your following distance from other vehicles, especially when approaching intersections or going over bridges. These areas can often be icy, even if the rest of the road is not.

It goes without saying to be alert and avoid distractions, but this is especially the case with winter driving. Beware of approaching stale green lights that may turn yellow. Avoid making sudden moves or last-minute lane changes. Turn your signal light on well in advance to give other drivers extra reaction time. Remember that semi trucks and buses have large blind spots and require greater stopping distance, so be especially cautious when driving around these vehicles, and never cut them off.

Winter Accidents

If you are involved in an accident this winter, the first thing to do is establish if anyone is hurt. If anyone in your car or the other vehicle needs immediate medical attention, call EMS and the police. The police will respond if someone needs to go to the hospital, or if there is an uninsured or impaired driver involved. However, if they do not attend the scene, you must report the accident at a Collision Reporting Center.

Stay warm and visible while you assess the damage to your vehicle and take photos, including of the scene of the accident. Collect any witnesses contact details, as well as the other driver’s insurance policy and vehicle information. Move your vehicle off the road if possible. If you cannot drive your vehicle away safely, call for help.

If you must wait for a tow-truck or ride, ideally seek shelter inside someplace nearby. If there is nowhere around, wait inside your running vehicle with your hazard lights on. It is not a good idea to stand outside or work on your vehicle while you wait, just in case another collision happens. Afterwards, report the accident to your insurance company. See a doctor as soon as possible to assess your injuries. Monitor your symptoms and follow through with their medical advice, including any treatment recommendations.


To Apologize Or Not To Apologize

What are Apology Laws?


The Achilles Heel of Courteous Canadians: Apologizing!


Oh no! You got into a car accident with another driver, and in the stressful nature of the moment, you found yourself apologizing to the other driver and suggesting you were the one to blame. Do your apology and comments you gave in a vulnerable moment hurt your potential legal claim?

Saying you’re sorry: does this hurt your claim?


The answer: not necessarily. Even before changes in our provincial “statutes” – (statutes are documents that set out the controlling rules in a particular area of law in a province) – for most provinces, the courts would consider an apology as one factor among others when trying to determine whether a party was at fault in a civil lawsuit.

In other words, giving an apology wouldn’t be a slam dunk to find someone at fault in a civil lawsuit, but it could help the judge determine who was.

For example, in the case of McCluskey and McDougall v. Nixon, after the car accident, the parties got out of their cars and spoke to each other. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant apologized to her for causing the accident. However, the defendant explained that he had not apologized for causing the accident, but rather was just apologizing for having spoken to her rudely at first in the heat of the moment. The court considered both parties’ explanations for the “apology” and the evidence in support or against each story when deciding who was at fault for the accident.

Nowadays however, most provinces have controlled the definition of what an “apology” means in a civil lawsuit. In Alberta, rules about how to use evidence of an apology are controlled by section 26.1(1) of a statute called the Alberta Evidence Act.

In a nutshell, this section of the statute says that for civil lawsuits (which includes car accident claims), apologies given by someone involved cannot be used as evidence to determine their fault. In addition, giving an apology won’t cancel out your insurer’s duty to defend you if someone sues you after a car accident.

This section means that a court can’t consider what an apology given in the moment means toward finding someone responsible or not anymore, like it did in the case of McCluskey. This provides some legal protection to those of us who in good faith express an apology at the scene of an accident without realizing how it can affect a legal matter.

That said, keeping in mind our earlier blog on things you should do to protect your legal rights – it is best practice to just remain as calm, courteous and neutral as possible at the scene of an accident, and not say anything more than necessary to the other people there – particularly concerning your thoughts about who was responsible or how the accident occurred. Those decisions are best left to your insurance company and lawyer, should you choose to hire one.