Impaired Driving/ Driving Under the Influence/ Driving While Intoxicated

Impaired Driving,
Driving Under the Influence,
Driving While Intoxicated

Need the Best dui lawyer in Calgary? Trust our dui attorneys.

A successful defence of impaired driving, refusing to blow, or driving while over .08 requires a dedicated lawyer with a meticulous approach. These types of offences are aggressively prosecuted and, therefore, we provide our clients with an equally aggressive defence strategy. There is no need to feel confused or anxious thinking about the charges you face, call Andre Ouellette, Mike C. Gilchrist, Peter Hoare & Sadaf Raja for immediate, free legal advice.

What is Impaired Driving? (DUI)

Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is a Criminal Code offence in Canada, our legal system refers to this charge as Impaired Driving. The American terms for alcohol related driving charges are Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) respectively. In Canada, offences include Impaired Driving, Care and Control, Refusal or Failure to Blow Driving Over .08 (80mg in 100ml), and Drug Impaired Driving cases.

How we defend your Impaired Driving Case

Lawyers Andre Ouellette, Mike C. Gilchrist, Peter Hoare & Sadaf Raja have been vigorously defending Impaired Driving (dui), Over .08 and Refusal to Blow cases throughout Alberta and Western Canada for over 2 decades. They know how to challenge police evidence in criminal driving cases and which defence strategies are successful. Andre, Peter, Sadaf & Mike are both skilled in the art of cross examination and are able to call into question the accuracy of police reports.

In order for you to be convicted, breath or blood samples can only be obtained through lawful procedure. In practice, this means that samples obtained by the police are inadmissible unless they follow rules in the Criminal Code. The rules are technical, sometimes contradictory and very difficult to follow precisely. Our courtroom experience means that we know the testing rules better than the police- an advantage we use to help you. Successful dui lawyer defence tactics include- but are not limited to- the following examples:

  • Did the police commence the testing within a reasonable time period?
  • Was the testing apparatus in proper working condition and maintained in accordance with manufacturer specifications?
  • Were the testing device(s) used approved for use in Alberta?
  • Can the Prosecution prove the accused was in “care and control” of the vehicle at the time of the impaired driving offence?
  • Was there an intention or act of operating a vehicle even if they had constructive care and control of the vehicle (e.g., found asleep in a running car on a cold night)?
  • Do the notes & observations recorded by the police establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was impaired at the time?
  • Was the accused held in detention longer than the circumstances warranted?
  • Do the new provisions to the Criminal Code dealing with impairment by drugs meet an objective and scientific standard of measurement?

What Should I do if Charged with an Impaired Driving Offence?

Annually over 1400 drivers are charged with one or more of these driving-related offences in Calgary. Not all accused charged are convicted. It is vital that you retain a legal team who is experienced in the highly technical area of Impaired Driving Defence

dui lawyer

Do not contact the Crown Prosecutor. Do not give a statement to the Police.

We can start work immediately on collecting the evidence needed for a comprehensive Impaired Driving strategy.


What if I Simply Plead Guilty or Represent Myself?

We do not recommend self-representation given the possible severity of the consequences. If you are found guilty of impaired driving (DUI) the minimum punishment is a $1000 fine and a one year prohibition from driving any motor vehicle. Those who have a previous criminal record for driving offences may also face minimum jail sentences. Furthermore, if a person pleads guilty or is convicted after trial of an impaired driving or driving over .08 offence, then vehicle insurance premiums will increase substantially.

If you are convicted you will end up with a searchable federal criminal record for DUI/ Impaired Driving. This record can restrict travel abroad and significantly impact a person’s ability to get or maintain employment.

If I get a 24 Hour Driving Suspension for DUI will I have a Criminal Record?

No, not necessarily. The 24 hour driving suspension associated with a suspected DUI/ Impaired Driving offence is a Provincial administrative penalty. The charge for impaired driving under Section 253 is a Federal charge. Hence although the two processes can arise from the same incident, they are essentially independent of each other.

If you have been criminally charges with impaired driving, you will need effective legal representation. Call Ouellette Hoare Claxton today for an immediate consultation with a dui lawyer.

What does a 24 hour suspension in Alberta mean to me?

In Alberta, Police Officers will issue a 24-hour suspension to any driver caught with a blood alcohol concentration of .05 or any driver that is under the suspected influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. Just because you have a 24-hour suspension for DUI/ Impaired Driving does not mean that you are facing criminal charges.

How long do you lose your license for Impaired Driving in Alberta?

This depends on your level of alleged intoxication as well as mitigating factors (damage to property and/ or individuals). Any person with a BAC of 0.8 or higher will face criminal DUI charges and will have their license suspended until the charges have been resolved. However Drivers with a BAC of 0.5 to 0.8 face a 3-day licence suspension on first offence, a 15 day suspension on second offence and a 30-day suspension and license review on third offence.

What is the fee for an Impaired Driving charge in Alberta?

Alberta currently does not fine persons convicted of impaired driving. However additional costs, such as the towing & impound of a vehicle or installation of an interlock device and/ or Planning Ahead/ Impact course fees may apply. You will not have to purchase a replacement license if you pick up our license from the police agency that issued your suspension within 7 days of the suspension.

What is a Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension?

The Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension imposes a suspension on drivers who are served with an alcohol and/or drug-related impaired driving offence (DUI) by police. An Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension applies to any substance (drugs, alcohol) that may cause a driver to be impaired.

As of April 2018, drivers with a breath or bloodstream sample over 0.8 or who fail to comply with lawful demand from a police officer to provide either a breath or blood sample will be subject to a two-stage, fixed term license suspension as follows:
1) A 90-day total license suspension
2) A follow-on one year suspension where the driver may be eligible to operate a vehicle provided that they participate in Alberta’s Ignition Interlock Program.

In addition to the License suspension and enrollment in the Ignition Interlock Program, Alberta drivers suspended for impaired driving / DUI may also have their vehicle seized:
1) for three days if it is the first disqualification within 10 years, or
2) for seven days if it is the second or subsequent disqualification within 10 years.

Can I hire a Lawyer to Appeal my License Suspension and/or Vehicle Seizure?

Yes, a qualified dui lawyer can determine if an appeal is the right course of action and guide you through the appeal process-
conducted by the Alberta Transportation Safety Board. An appeal must be received within 30 days of a DUI suspension/ vehicle seizure being issues, so it is important to act quickly. Further information on the Appealing a Notice of Suspension following a DUI can be found on the Transportation Safety Board’s site; we recommend that you retain counsel to aid in the Appeals process following a DUI / Impaired Driving suspension.

How can I Appeal my DUI related License Suspension and/or Vehicle Seizure?

An experienced lawyer can assist you in appealing your Impaired Driving / DUI suspension. We may employ the following arguments:

  1. That you did not consume alcohol or drugs in a quantity sufficient to impair the operation of a vehicle within three hours of driving.
  2. That you blood alcohol concentration was not above 0.8 at any time or within 3 hours of driving.
  3. That you did not in fact refuse to comply with a breath demand, or if you did so you had a reasonable excuse.

Appeals to reinstate you license following suspicion of a Impaired Driving / DUI offence are time sensitive, so call Ouellette Hoare Claxton today for your free initial consultation. We understand the importance of your freedom and your driver’s license.

What do I do when I have been given a Promise to Appear (PTA) note following my DUI?

The Promise To Appear (PTA) for a DUI is a form requiring you or your lawyers to appear in Court for your DUI. The court date is when you will attend court on the date and time indicated and decide whether you are going to plead guilty and deal with the matter at that time, or, plead not guilty and set a date for trial. Any fingerprinting process will require you to attend in person; however, a lawyer may appear in your place for your first court date. Failure to attend any court appointment may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.

What is a Notice of Intention to Seek Greater Punishment?

A Notice of Intention To Seek Greater Punishment describes your current charges and serves to inform you that the Crown Prosecutor may seek enhanced charges if you are not a first time DUI offender. This is only used when you have a previous conviction for DUI.

What is a Certificate of Analysis?

The Certificate of Analysis is provided by the readings obtained on a legally Approved Instrument. On the Certificate it will have 2 readings that were collected by the Qualified Breath Technician. In Canada, the legal limit for Criminal DUI charges is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

What happens to my driving privileges during my DUI Suspension?

If you have been subject to an administrative license suspension (Administrative License Suspension/Disqualification) as a result of a DUI, Your Alberta Driver’s License would have been seized and a Temporary Operator’s Permit would have been given to you in it’s place.

The Temporary Operator’s Permit is your new driver’s licence. Upon your release from police custody a 24-hour provincial driving suspension will take effect. Once the 24-hour suspension expires you will have 21 days of driving privileges to give you time to arrange alternative transportation. After 21 days pass a 3 month provincial driving prohibition will take effect where you are no longer authorized to operate a motor vehicle.

Consequences for driving while suspended differ but for a first offence you can expect to have your vehicle seized for 30 days and a summons issued compelling your attendance in court to answer to driving while suspended. If convicted, you may face an additional penalty and/or monetary fine.

What are the Penalties for Driving High in Alberta?

Blood concentration level

Federal criminal penalty *

2 nanograms (ng) per millilitre (ml)
but less than 5 ng/ml THC

Maximum $1,000 fine (summary conviction)

5 ng/ml or more THC **


2.5 ng/ml or more THC combined
with 50 mg/100ml or more alcohol

1st offence: Minimum $1,000 fine

2nd offence: Mandatory 30 days imprisonment

3rd offence: Mandatory 120 days imprisonment

* Penalties are more serious for drivers who have high levels of impairment or who injure or kill others while driving impaired, and those who have multiple impaired convictions.** This section also includes penalties for exceeding any blood drug concentration under Canadian federal regulations. THC is the only drug with established time limits as of October 2018.

DUI/ Impaired Charges in Calgary

It is common to refer to impaired driving as a single charge, in Calgary and surrounding area you can in fact be charged with 3 separate alcohol-related driving offences:

  1. Impaired Driving/Care or Control (s. 253(1)(a) of the Criminal Code)
  2. Driving/Care or Control while Over 80 or Over .08(s. 253(1)(b) of the Criminal Code)
  3. Refusal or Failure to provide a sample of blood or breath(s. 254(5) of the Criminal Code)

DUI Punishments in Calgary, Alberta

In Calgary if you are charged with an alcohol related offence you may be facing a mandatory minimum sentence. If convicted of impaired driving, driving over .8, or refusal to blow, for your first offence you will automatically face a minimum 1 year driving suspension and a $1000 fine. If this is your second offence, you are looking at a minimum of 30 days in jail plus a driving suspension of at least 2 years. If this is your third offence, you will have a minimum 120 days in jail and a minimum driving suspension of 3 years.

Can I go to Treatment to Avoid a Criminal Record (Curative Discharge)

In Alberta, a curative discharge is a program that calls for you to present medical evidence that shows you suffer from an alcohol addiction. In addition, in order to be successful in your application, you will be also required to undergo rehabilitative treatment to tackle your problem. Usually this involves some time spent in an in-patient facility. Once you complete an intensive period of treatment, you will need to convince the court that you have a genuine likelihood of remaining sober. If the court accepts your evidence, you will be discharged from the offence and will not receive a criminal record. You will however still be subject to the one year driving prohibition, but avoiding a criminal record can aid you in obtaining a better job, the ability to travel freely and the ability to remain in Canada if you are an immigrant on a VISA.

Bail Conditions for Impaired Driving in Calgary

As a DUI is considered an arrestable offence in Calgary, the police officer will likely take you into custody. Once you arrive at the police station, you will be booked in accordance with standard CPS operational procedures typically:

  • You will be booked.
  • You will be fingerprinted and/ or photographed
  • You may have a Blood Alcohol Test or Drug test administered
  • A police officer may question you (DO NOT give the police a statement until you have spoken with a lawyer) To schedule a free consultation with a Calgary, Alberta DUI lawyer, please call us today or contact us online.

Following your arrest and release on bail for DUI, you will be required to attend Calgary Provincial Court to enter a plea to the offence. Typically, your first appearance will be set in a docket courtroom. It is important that you abide by the licence suspension, and the instructions to attend court. A failure to comply with any of the conditions of your release can result in further charges being laid against you. It can require anywhere from 3 to 12 months to go to trial for a DUI charge in Calgary, call the offices of Ouellette, Hoare Claxton as soon as you have been released so that a dui lawyer can work on your defence.

Over 0.80 Lawyers in Calgary

Section s.253(1)(b) of the Criminal Code establishes penalties for driving over 0.80. Police will issue this charge to you if your blood alcohol content that exceeded 80 mgs of alcohol in 100 ml of blood. Police may establish grounds for your arrest through observation alone, (such as an impaired driving pattern and smelling alcohol on your person), or by using a roadside screening device.

dui lawyers calgary

The roadside-screening device is a compact instrument that takes a sample of your breath and determines whether you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over or under 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. If your BAC is over 80, the device will read a ‘fail’. This immediately allows the police to detain you for the purpose of acquiring further samples of your breath.


Once the police have proof that you had a BAC of over 0.8 while operating a vehicle, they will frequently lay this charge alongside of the s. 253(1)(a) impaired driving charge. Even though you can eventually only be found guilty of either impaired driving or over 0.8, you will still have to fight both charges in court.

Defending a 0.8 Charge in Calgary

Mounting an effective defence for a 0.8 charge can be challenging if the police have scientific evidence (breath or blood sample) that confirms your guilt. However the Calgary DUI lawyers at Ouellette Hoare Claxton have successfully defended thousands of impaired/ DUI and 0.8 charges over four decades. Typically we would defend this charge is by disputing the evidence obtained against you and attesting that said evidence was was unlawfully obtained. Furthermore, there can be mechanical issues with the breath device or technical issues regarding how the device was read. We will sit down and explore your legal options once you have authorized Ouellette Hoare Claxton to obtain your evidence package (disclosure) from the Crown. Even if you plan to submit a guilty plea, we highly recommend you review your options with an experienced dui lawyer.

Free Legal Consultation

Calgary Criminal Law Hoare Claxton Pardons

Find Us

Suite 210, 600 6th Ave SW Calgary Alberta T2P 0S5

Call Us

Immediate Assistance : 587-355-8889
Reception : 403-262-7722