Police can hand out tougher roadside impaired driving penalties beginning on Tuesday.
The Immediate Roadside Sanctions Program includes more serious and escalating penalties for impaired drivers that kick in when they are pulled over.
Under the new system, if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a driver has committed an impaired driving offence because they register a fail on a roadside breathalyzer or refuse to provide a sample the driver’s licence will be suspended immediately for 90 days and their vehicle seized for 30 days.
After the 90 days is up the driver can only use a vehicle with an ignition interlock for one year.
A $1,000 fine will also be handed out and the driver must complete a mandatory impaired driving course.
For a second offence, the 90-day seizure is followed by a requirement that the driver only use an ignition interlock vehicle for three years or have their licence suspended for that period.
Officers will still have the discretion to go ahead and lay formal impaired driving charges depending on the circumstances and past driving record.
Red Deer RCMP Traffic Services Sgt. Michael Zufferli said the legislative changes will be useful.
“ The use of administrative penalties allow our officers to defer first-time offenders from the court system,” said Zufferli. “This prevents the citizen from having a criminal record, but still holds them accountable for their actions when it comes to Impaired driving.”
The Administrative Penalties Information System allows officers to upload all the necessary documents and reports quickly to the province so police can get back on the road.
“The escalating nature of the administrative penalties ensures repeat offenders are held accountable for their continued disregard for public safety,” he said. “Through the expansion of the ignition interlock program we can remove habitual offenders from the roadway, and improve the safety of our communities.”
Justice Minister Kaycee Madu echoed that the new legislation will free up police and the court system.
“SafeRoads Alberta will help get impaired drivers off the road and free up court and police resources – allowing police to focus on keeping our communities safe and the courts to focus on the most serious matters,” said Madu in a statement.
The new system was applauded by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
SafeRoads Alberta will help get impaired drivers off the road and free up court and police resources – allowing police to focus on keeping our communities safe and the courts to focus on the most serious matters,” said Andrew Murie, MADD Canada CEO.
Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police president Dale McFee said the new measures will hold drivers accountable while reducing the amount of time officers must spend dealing with drunk drivers.
“This allows our officers to spend more time focusing on the community to reduce crime and victimization,” he said. “In addition, it has been shown that dealing with impairment with sanctions to the subject’s vehicle in the first instance drastically reduces future offences.”
Drivers will be able to pay their fines, request more time to pay or dispute their penalties and vehicle seizure through the SafeRoads Alberta website at alberta.ca/saferoads