Drug Charges and DUIs/Impaired Driving Under Calgary Law

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Most people in Calgary think of a DUI charge—"driving under the influence," officially called an impaired driving charge under Alberta law— as involving drinking and driving. When you get behind the wheel of a vehicle and have a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the threshold limit(s), you can find yourself facing a DUI.

It's true that many DUIs in Calgary involve alcohol, and that there are specific features of Alberta's impaired driving laws that are solely about alcohol (for instance, the law defines driving with a BAC above .05 as an administrative penalty, and a BAC of .08 or higher as a criminal charge). What many in Calgary don't realize, however, is that you can be charged with impaired driving/DUI if you are under the influence of any intoxicating substance while operating a vehicle on Calgary's streets or highways.

Impaired driving isn't just about alcohol. Any drug—totally legal, prescription, or illegal—that has an intoxicating effect is something that can land you in a lot of legal hot water if you decide to drive after taking it.

Even Drugs You Are Legally Taking Can Lead to a Calgary DUI

Many prescription drugs and even a variety of non-prescription medicines can have intoxicating effects. Cough syrup and other cold medicines, prescription painkillers, sedatives and sleeping pills—taking any of these can make it unsafe for you to drive, and if an officer with the Calgary Police Service or other law enforcement agency determines that you were intoxicated while operating a vehicle you could very well find yourself facing an administrative DUI penalty at the very least.

Your best bet is to avoid driving if you have taken any medication known to have intoxicating effects, even if you don't feel that your judgement or abilities have been compromised. The fact that you took medication legally and within the parameters established by the dosage instructions and/or your physician isn't necessarily a defence against a DUI charge, and should never be relied upon to keep you and others on Calgary's roads safe.

Driving while under the influence of illicit substances such as cocaine and other illegal "recreational" drugs can also lead to impaired driving charges, as can driving under the influence of marijuana despite its shifting legal status (a shift that isn't complete, it should be noted; marijuana is still technically illegal to possess in Calgary). Should the police pull you over while you're in possession of illicit drugs, you might find yourself facing an impaired driving charge and drug possession charges, too.

The simple answer? Don't drive after ingesting any substance that alters your perceptions, judgements, or capabilities, even slightly. It will keep you safe physically and legally, and will keep everyone in Calgary safer, too.

Contact a Calgary DUI Defence Lawyer Today

If you or a family member has been charged with a DUI in Calgary, whether it's related to alcohol or any other substance, you have the right to talk to a defence lawyer right away. For a free initial consultation with one of Calgary's most dedicated DUI defence lawyers, please contact my office today.

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