Impaired driving is defined as operating a vehicle while your ability to do so has been compromised to any degree by the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two.
Alcohol and drugs, even in small quantities, interfere with the bodily functions we need in order to drive safely. Most commonly, the functions being affected are our alertness, vision clarity, depth perception, judgment, reaction times, and motor-coordination.
Of course, these impairments often create extremely dangerous situations that, of course, would have been non-existent without the use of alcohol or drugs.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that authorities take impaired driving incidents so seriously. However, to remain as effective as possible, impaired driving laws are continuously evolving to handle new factors and situations, to incorporate the most successful aspects of previous regulations, and to improve upon those aspects that were not so successful.
As you can see, it’s easy to understand why impaired driving laws change, but you are probably wondering how these impaired laws change.
To better understand, let’s take a look at the changes our own province has implemented in regards to impaired driving legislation.
What Kinds of Changes Can You Expect?
Alberta’s impaired driving laws were recently overhauled. These new changes have had two major impacts.
First, they have given law enforcement more tools with which to detect and prove impaired driving. Law enforcement officers now have the right to conduct roadside breath testing and roadside saliva testing, as well as to charge based solely on THC blood levels (which is important given the new country wide marijuana legalization).
Second, a change in the administrative suspension regime has ensured our provinces impaired driving laws are as constitutional as possible – following the presumption of innocence. Before this change, those charged with impaired driving would face suspensions lasting until they were deemed innocent at trial, which was found to be unfair given the potential that they were being unjustly punished.
With the changes, those charged now only face a 90-day prohibition period followed by a 1-year suspension, where they will now have the ability to drive on a restricted license given they complete a specified program to earn such.
Why Are these Laws So Important?
Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death here in Canada, with an average of 4 people being killed each and every day in crashes involving alcohol and/or drugs.
These statistics are appalling and unacceptable. No drink or substance is worth endangering your life, those of the your passengers, or of the other innocent drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians on the road.
Reinforcing the laws surrounding this behaviour is meant not only to punish those who choose to be so reckless, but also as an attempt to prevent these situations from occurring in the first place.
Drive Safe, Drive Sober
If everyone would drive responsibly, we wouldn’t have a need for these types of laws – however, that isn’t the case and probably never will be.
Until the magic day comes where that is the case, impaired driving laws will continue to change and evolve in a way that makes them as effective as possible at keeping our roads safe and dealing appropriately with those who hinder that.