If you have been stopped for impaired driving in Alberta, here is what you need to know right away.
Since December 1, 2020, the police in Alberta no longer lay criminal charges for impaired driving, except in unusual circumstances.
Most of the time they will just issue a Notice of Administrative Penalty (“NAP”) which provides for an Immediate Roadside Sanction (“IRS”).
The NAP will give you all of the consequences of an impaired driving conviction except the criminal record; including:
Mandatory Minimum licence suspension for 15 months, including 3 months of walking and 12 months of walking unless you get an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
Fine of at least $1000, plus applicable surcharges, and;
Vehicle will be impounded for 30 days at your expense.
The only way to avoid this suspension is to appeal it and the appeal must be filed within 7 days of receiving the NAP.
The Appeal is filed online, through the SafeRoads Portal, under the tab “IRS review”. We recommend that you have your lawyer book the appeal, because once it is booked they will not allow you to change the hearing date if your lawyer is not available.
There is a fee of $150 to file the appeal which is heard by an Adjudicator. The Adjudicators are not lawyers or judges, so it is particularly hard to predict what decisions they will make.
The Appeal must be heard within 21 days of the offence date, and the decision is generally reserved but must be given within 30 days of the offence date.
There are a number of very technical defences that may allow you to win your appeal, as set out in the legislation.
Sympathy is not a valid reason to win your appeal, nor is the fact that you are a good person and have never been in trouble before or that you need your driver’s licence to work. None of these arguments will be successful.
This system is set up to make it as difficult as they can for you to win the appeal. There are strict deadlines and timelines that must be followed.
We strongly recommend that you hire a good lawyer who is familiar with these appeals, as we think it is nearly impossible for someone to win the appeal without one. If you do not hire a lawyer and then lose the appeal, there is a right to a Judicial Review by a Judge, but the scope of that review is restricted to the evidence and arguments that were heard by the Adjudicator. You cannot add more evidence or make new arguments - it may not do any good to hire a lawyer at that point.
We are very good lawyers and have been focused on impaired driving defence for over 40 years. We have been arguing a lot of these cases since they first began in December 2020 and are winning most of them. If you want to chat with us, call 403-233-9239 right away to speak with one of our lawyers.