7 DUI Facts Your Calgary Defence Lawyer Wants You to Know: Part 1

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Impaired driving or DUI (Driving Under the Influence—also sometimes called DWI or Driving While Intoxicated) remains an all too common offence here in the Greater Calgary Area and throughout Alberta, accounting for more than 2,000 arrests and charges in the City of Calgary alone during 2015. Everyone knows that driving after having too much to drink is both dangerous and illegal, yet many in Calgary do so anyway, and they face serious legal consequences as a result.

While the decision to drive drunk is something everyone is personally responsible for, it's also true that one mistake shouldn't affect your entire life. You're entitled to an effective, rigorous, and comprehensive defence if you've been charged with a DUI in Calgary, and working with a knowledgeable Calgary criminal defence lawyer is the best way to achieve that.

There are also some things that can help you assist in your own defence, of course, beginning with some basic knowledge about the current DUI laws in effect in Calgary, the allowances they give to law enforcement to aid in the detection and investigation of suspected impaired drivers, and the penalties that DUI convictions—and even DUI arrests—can carry.

Here are seven facts that, in the opinion of this Calgary DUI defence lawyer, every driver in Alberta ought to know.

1. There Are Two Types of DUI Charges in Calgary
In 2012, Alberta enacted new impaired driving laws. Amongst other things, these laws established a two-tiered system for DUI offences involving alcohol. Drivers who are suspected of operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) between .05 and .08 face an administrative charge, which is similar to a speeding ticket or other infraction in terms of the legal processes involved (even an administrative DUI charges can come with significant penalties, though, as we'll see shortly).

Any driver in Calgary who is arrested for a DUI involving a BAC of .08 or greater, however, can face a criminal impaired driving charge—a charge that can result in a full trial and, if convicted, a jail sentence and a permanent criminal record that can significantly impact your career and travel opportunities.

2. Impaired Driving in Calgary Can Carry Automatic Penalties
Another aspect of the new and tougher impaired driving laws in Alberta is the creation of automatic penalties upon arrest for a DUI or suspected impaired driving. For all drivers suspected of a DUI, an immediate vehicle seizure is now standard procedure; you can lose your car for up to a week or even more before you are even able to mount a defence.

This might be unfair, but for now this is the legal environment you have to contend with.

For drivers charged with criminal impaired driving—DUI charges involving a BAC of .08 or higher—an immediate and automatic license suspension upon arrest is also possible under the law. This license suspension can remain in effect until your case is fully resolved in the Calgary courts—a process that can take months!

For more important Calgary DUI facts, check out Part 2 of this article. For a free consultation with Calgary DUI lawyer Susan Karpa, contact her office today.

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