New impaired driving laws came into effect in Alberta this week and while it's not a paradigm shift, there are some changes to take note of.
"Anyone charged for impaired operation of a motor vehicle, their license was suspended until the court proceedings were completed; sometimes that was from a year to three years before that was settled," outlined Constable Lucas Stewart of the Drumheller RCMP. "Now, anyone who is caught impaired driving gets a 90 day suspension on their license automatically. After those 90 days it's a one year suspension, but the driver can apply for the Ignition Interlock Program."
"They're trying to get them done within that year," explained Constable Stewart. "They're trying to make it so that would be the complete length of the suspension before the court process would be completed."
The changes follow a ruling by the Alberta Court of Appeal that the old law ignores the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial before any punishment is imposed. They also reflect the pending legalization of marijuana by the Federal Government.
"We test impairment levels in drivers impaired by drugs by doing physical testing and a few other tests, blood tests, pulse rate and that sort of thing, and determine impairment by that," noted Stewart. "There's probably about 60 of those officers in Alberta for the RCMP and they're bumping the training up in anticipation of Bill C-46 passing."
The new Alberta impaired laws also have a zero tolerance for drivers with graduated licenses for both alcohol and drugs. More details can be found here.