Alberta implements indefinite license suspension for impaired drivers

I gotta say…Alberta has definitely got my attention.

In Canada, impaired driving kills between 1,250 and 1,500 people every year (that’s 4 people every single day) and injures more than 63,000. In Alberta alone, from 2006 to 2010, 569 people were killed and 8,530 people were injured in collisions involving impaired drivers. And this province is standing up and saying “NO MORE!”

As of July 1, 2012 (Canada Day) Alberta will become the first Canadian province to suspend an impaired driver’s license (driver found to have a blood alcohol over .08) immediately; a suspension that will stay in effect until the criminal charge is resolved before the courts.

I won’t lie. This makes me tingle in my special spot.

One of the most difficult things our family had to go through was knowing that the man who hit and killed Mamma K and injured The Dude was quite literally licensed to drive the DAY AFTER the wreck. He got drunk and stoned, drove, killed a woman and injured a 16-year-old boy and not 24 hours later, was back living his life as if nothing happened; no consequences what so ever. Driving, working, and living while our world was shattered. It took 20 months for this man to be found guilty and sentenced for his crime and in all that time, he was licensed to kill again.

For families affected by impaired drivers in Alberta that will no longer be the case. Hallelujah.

Now that’s not the ONLY thing Alberta is doing either. There’s more good stuff. I know…it’s like CHRISTMAS!!!

A person found to be driving impaired will also have their vehicle seized for 3 days and IF convicted, the driver will be required to install and pay for an ignition interlock device (a device where they must blow and pass before they are able to start the car) for at least one year.


It gives me goosies!

Except I am not sure why, if found guilty, the vehicle isn’t seized permanently given it was used in the commission of a crime. I mean seriously – think about it. My guess is that a person would only have to lose their vehicle once to really get the message that impaired driving won’t be tolerated. But hey…at least Alberta is moving in the right direction and enforcing an ignition interlock device is a great step in keeping impaired drivers off the road.

Alberta is putting in a variety of appeal levels in place:

  • Drivers will be able to request a second breathalyzer test by a different machine at the roadside.
  • Drivers charged whose licenses are suspended pending the court decision can appeal through the Alberta Transportation Safety Board.

The province’s new rules also target those caught with a blood alcohol level between .05 and .08. As of September 1, 2012, drivers caught at this level will have their license suspended and vehicle seized for 3 days. Graduated drivers (new drivers) will receive a 30-day suspension and a 7-day seizure.

The province expects that the new rules will stand up against any constitutional challenges. That made me give a little first pump. Hoorah!

I hope all Canadian provinces are taking note of Alberta’s commitment to implementing much tougher impaired driving laws that only work to make our roads safer.

What do you think? Do these new laws push the boundaries of “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law”? If so, do you think it’s warranted? Do you believe they will make the Alberta roads safer? How far should our countries/provinces/states go to make our roads safe from impaired drivers? I’d love to hear your thoughts….

On August 1, 2009, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:



  1. Way to go Alberta!

    I see your point about seizing the vehicle but I also see the other side — the idiot probably needs the vehicle to get to and from work which said idiot needs to make restitution. However, if we’re talking about death or injury, I fully agree the vehicle should be seized, just like a gun would be, and held through trial then returned or auctioned off accordingly.

    Now if only the states would do something along these lines.

    • I hear ya Raelyn. Total catch-22. You want punishment to deter any further activity but at the same time, restitution is important as is rehabilitation. It’s a fine line. I agree, if there are injuries or a death, it should absolutely be seized permanently. And if the vehicle was damaged or beyond repair, the insurance companies should have the right to refuse to cover the repairs or the loss…meaning the driver would still be on the hook to cover any outstanding payments etc…
      Exactly…just like a gun, or a house, or cash is seized when drug dealers are busted.
      I was under the impression that the states had much harsher DUI laws especially penalties for the most serious offences. I’m going to have to do some research and educate myself and do a post about my sister country’s laws/policies. Interesting!

      • I’m not up on the latest laws and they’re changing all the time. And, of course, each state is different just like each province is different. For example, here in Nevada they don’t confiscate a vehicle though repeat offenders are subject to registration restrictions. The ignition interlock thing is in place but only mandatory in aggravated cases. Guess it’s better than nothing 🙂

    • Natalie's Hubby says:

      I think this is exactly what we need – punishments that hits people where it hurts. Maybe its a family vehicle – GOOD! I want the punishments that are handed out to be bad enough that people will not even risk driving impaired! Until we get to a point where people are actually getting caught and severe punishments – we are going to continue to have people mowed down on our roads!

  2. prudencemacleod says:

    WOW! Stand up and cheer for Alberta. Now, let’s get the rest of the nation on this bandwagon.

  3. My aunt and uncle were hit by a drunk driver. My aunt’s mother who was in the backseat died and her father was critical. My aunt and uncle were in the hospital for weeks with countless injuries. It’s such a terrible thing. Drunk drivers always hurt other people. I’m in favor of very strict DUI laws.

    • I am so sorry to hear about your aunt and uncle. What a senseless tragedy. My heart goes out to your family. It is such a terrible thing and I think once you’ve gone through it, you have no issue with very tight DUI laws – I am with you 100%!

  4. yep, we do it right out west. LOL time will tell if these laws will stand up. I don’t like the idea of having my license seized without a hearing. I would rather they take the license and then have a trial within 3 days. If I’m found not guilt – for whatever reason, then I’ve been without a license for 20 months from no fault of my own. But everything takes time. this is a great first step.

    • You guys do!!!

      I am going to be watching the news very closely to see how these laws stand up against appeals. It’ll be interesting.

      I hear ya Louise. It comes down to “innocent until proven guilty”. It’s a pretty foundational element to our Charter of Rights and Freedoms so I’m very surprised that the government feels this indefinite license suspension will stand against appeal because you are essentially punishing someone before they’ve had their day in court.

      That being said, there’s no way to get people into court in 3 days – now THAT would be the ideal way to go!

      I heard recently about a woman who has been charged with impaired driving causing death purposely dragging out her court process by constantly changing lawyers. It’s going on nearly 3 years and they haven’t been able to get this woman to trial yet. And the family must sit by devastated, life torn apart while she continues on without consequence working the system. Yes, she will face the music someday but in the meantime, it’s pretty devastating to the family. An immediate and indefinite license suspension would certainly curb an impaired driver’s will to play the system this way.

      So unfortunate. There are never easy answers. Nothing is ever black and white.

      I think if you’ve gone through it, you lean more towards the harsher side of the law. But I definitely see your point. Those checks and balances are there for a reason – to protect the innocent. Tough call. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next year.

      Thanks so much for your comment – happy weekend!!!

      • That happened to a friend of mine. His wife was killed by a drunk driver and he did everything but move to south america to delay the proceedings. Tragic for he and their 4 children as they waited for justice. it is all so darned difficult.

  5. Natalie's Hubby says:

    Another great Friday Impaired post by the most supportive wife ever!

    I believe this is around post 65 now and even though it continues to be one of the lowest hit posts of the week – she refuses to change to a different format – the writing, commitment and perseverance blows me away!

    Not sure how I would have gotten through these past couple year’s without Hubby’s Wife!

  6. These are awesome changes! I hope the rest of the world (I’m especially looking at you, USA), will implement these changes. Only you can be writing about a totally serious subject and make me laugh ~ makes you tingle in your special spot! I was rolling on that one. Then I got serious again. Especially when I read Hubby’s comment up there. Totally made me tear up.

    You’re doing something important here, Natalie and I commend you for your hard work and perseverance. Mwauh!

    • Gotta remember to insert a little “me” in everything I write, right? LOL!!

      Thanks so much for the wonderful support and encouragement Tameri. Means a lot to me. Yes, hubby outdid himself today. Had me in tears..gotta luv it when they woo you with love…


  7. Thanks for the blog love, Natalie. I spent the morning working out with Laura and she mentioned how much she loves Twitter–even though she didn’t expect to.
    -Fae Rowen

  8. Natalie, don’t ever give up on this! We will keep tweeting the bejeezus out of it and I know the message will get through to others. Good for Alberta … we will be watching to see if they follow through and maybe the rest of the country will do the same. Have a great, safe weekend!

    • Thanks so much Patricia – I will keep it up because it definitely feeds my soul.
      Yes, it will be interesting to see how the new laws hold up and what that could mean for the rest of our provinces. Here’s hoping….fingers crossed!

  9. Karen McFarland says:

    I think you’re doing something great here Natalie, so don’t stop this post! It doesn’t matter if we’re in Canada or the U.S., or anywhere else for that matter. Drunk driving is a world-wide problem. It’s good to see Alberta take a firmer stand. I know they have in the states. And just so you know, I always tweet about this post. It’s too important. Of course it isn’t as fun as your spunky post earlier in the week. But so what? Actually, this is more important. I’ll always be here to cheer you on! 🙂

    • Awwwww…HUGS Karen! Thank you so much and absolutely HELL YES to that. It is a world-wide problem and we can all learn from each other on best practices. 🙂
      I can’t say it enough how deeply I appreciate your (and all of you) support reading, commenting and/or tweeting. It really makes a huge difference to me…and I know helps spread the message across a wide spectrum of people.

  10. Glad to see that Alberta is being tough on this issue. No law is perfect and hopefully reasonable adjustments can be made as needed. At least this is a great start to scare the bejesus out of anyone tempted to drive impaired. Knowing they could lose their vehicle should be a huge motivator after they’re over being angry about the new laws and just accept it. You’re a good woman, Natalie, to work so hard on this with Hubby. You two will make a difference and we’ll help you get the word out!

    • I agree, it’s a great start and I hope the law stands and is implemented across the country.
      Thank you sooo much for your support Marcia. You guys getting the word out makes all the difference…MUAH!

  11. I got hit by a drunk driver in Edmonton after myself having 3 beers at a party. The accident was not my fault in any way and was totally unavoidable. Now I’m being punished as if I was at fault and on top of the medical issues from the accident I’m now being treated as a hardened criminal.

    I haven’t been able to work since the accident and the guy who fell asleep at the wheel because he was so drunk was back at work the following Monday. This law seems to be punish everyone without due process and does very little to determine actual guilt. If we have such a problem with drink driving in Alberta why not make breathalyzer machines mandatory?


  1. […] friend Natalie Hartford wrote a blog recently about a new drunk driving law in Alberta. She lives some 2600 miles east of Alberta in New […]

Leave a Reply to Louise Behiel Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: