The new Federal and Provincial impaired driving laws give the police broad powers. Under these laws, police can stop drivers, demand samples, suspend driver’s licences and impound vehicles. These powers may even be unconstitutional.
You Can be Stopped by Police Even if You Were Doing Nothing Wrong
The new laws give police the power to stop drivers just to check sobriety. They no longer need a reason to pull you over. You could be doing nothing wrong, but they can still pull you over and demand that you provide a breath sample. Even if there is no evidence that you consumed drugs or alcohol.
You Can Lose Your Licence, even if You Were Not Impaired
It is a criminal offence to refuse to provide a breath sample upon demand. If you are pulled over and refuse to blow, the police can charge you criminally and as a result your license is suspended. Even if there is no evidence that you were impaired.
If you provide a breath sample on demand and blow over the legal limit, you will be arrested and charged criminally, and your licence will be automatically suspended.
Whether you refuse to blow, or you blow over the legal limit, you will be immediately suspended from driving for 90 days plus a year. Your vehicle will be towed and impounded for up to 1 week. You will have to pay towing and storage fees before getting your vehicle back.
Amazingly, the 1-year suspension continues even if you are ultimately found innocent. If the charges against you are dropped or you are found not guilty by the Court, your licence will remain suspended for the original 90 days plus a year.
In other words, even if the police did not have proper reasons or grounds for charging you or you are found innocent of any crime, you still lose your license.
How Can You Get Your Licence Back?
If police suspend your licence, your only hope of getting your license back earlier than 90 days plus a year is to make an appeal to the Alberta Transportation Safety Board. You must file an appeal within 30 days of the suspension.
There are certain documents you have to file and fees you have to pay in order to make the appeal. A lawyer can help you prepare your appeal and make arguments on your behalf. If the Board does not cancel the suspension, then you cannot get your licence back until the suspension period expires.
Your License Can Be Suspended Even if You Don’t Blow Over the Legal Limit
Even if you blow under the legal limit and your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit, the police can suspend your licence. If your blood alcohol content is more than 50mg per 100ml of blood (0.05), your licence can be suspended for anywhere from 3 up to 30 days. The more times your licence has been suspended, the longer your suspension will be.
Police will also have your vehicle towed and impounded for up to one week. You will have to pay towing and storage fees before you can retrieve your vehicle. If this is the second time you have had an immediate roadside suspension, you will be required to complete a mandatory educational program. You might also have terms and conditions placed on your license and you are subject to review by the Alberta Transportation Safety Board.
Finally, there is a 24-hour suspension, which police have a discretion to impose. If police suspect that drugs or alcohol have affected your physical or mental ability, they can take away your license for 24 hours. They do not need substantial proof that you were doing anything wrong. Police can also have your vehicle towed and impounded.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence or your license has been suspended, the lawyers at Moustarah and Company are here to help. Our knowledgeable lawyers will determine if you can apply to have your license reinstated and what legal defences you may have.