Administrative and Criminal Penalties for Calgary DUIs

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Administrative and Criminal Penalties for Calgary DUIs

Everyone knows drinking and driving is against the law. It's not wise when it comes to your health and safety, either, or the health and safety of those you share the Calgary roads with. Despite these things being well-known by drivers in and around Calgary, though, impaired driving charges remain relatively common in a city with a relatively low crime rate, with Calgary Police laying a handful of such charges against drivers every day, on average.

What might be less well-known amongst Calgary-area residents is the fact that there are different kinds of DUI charges, and different levels of penalties that those convicted of impaired driving—or even simply charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs—might face. This article details, in brief, the difference between an administrative DUI charge and an arrest that can lead to harsher penalties and a criminal record.

Calgary DUIs with BACs Between .05 and .08

A major part of determining when a DUI charge can be laid against a Calgary driver is measuring that driver's BAC or blood alcohol content (sometimes also interpreted as "breath alcohol content," though this is technically inaccurate). Under Alberta's impaired driving laws, drivers with a BAC below .05 are legally allowed to drive; it is when a BAC is over .05 that certain charges and penalties come into play.

Those accused of a DUI with a BAC that is at or above .05 but less than .08 face administrative penalties rather than criminal charges. Though administrative penalties are less substantial than criminal penalties, they are still quite significant, including an immediate licenses suspension and vehicle seizure lasting three days for a first offence, with longer suspension and seizure periods for subsequent offences. Calgary drivers facing administrative DUI charges may also be required to attend classes on safe driving, responsible drinking habits, and other related courses.

Make no mistake: though an administrative charge is less serious than a criminal DUI charge, it can have a major impact on your life.

Calgary DUIs with BACs of .08 and Higher

When a Calgary driver is charged with a DUI for operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher, they face even harsher criminal penalties. Not only does such a charge lead to an immediate 3-day vehicle seizure for a first offence (with a 7-day seizure for subsequent offences), such charges also come with an automatic license suspension that isn't lifted until your case is resolved—a process that can take over a year!

Additional penalties for criminal DUI convictions include the mandatory use of ignition interlock devices and possible addiction counseling, in addition to having a criminal record that can follow you around for years.

Partnering with a Calgary DUI Lawyer

Whether you are facing administrative or criminal charges arising out of a DUI accusation, you are entitled to work with an experienced Calgary DUI lawyer to make sure your rights and interests are protected. A defence lawyer may be able to reverse some of the automatic penalties while your case is pending, and will bring their knowledge and experience to bear to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

To speak with a Calgary DUI lawyer today, contact the offices of David Chow for a free initial consultation.