The provincial government is looking to change the way they penalize impaired drivers in Alberta. If the new regulations pass, they will decriminalize first-time offenders. This doesn't mean the offenders wouldn't be held accountable for their actions, rather, criminal charges would be avoided and heavier penalties including a $1,000 fine would be issued instead.

The Provincial Administrative Penalties Act, Bill 21, presented by the government is looking to pass legislature. 

Bill 21 received its first reading in the legislative assembly on Thursday, June 4. 

If it's passed and becomes law, first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more will be issued a fine of $1,000

Instead of being charged criminally, the driver will also be given a mandatory education course and a 30-day vehicle seizure. In this case, the preexisting penalties of a 90-day license suspension and 12 months of using a breathalyzer in the car are also be applied

CBC News has reported that if this bill passed, a new government branch will be created called SafeRoads AB.

SaeRoads would oversee less serious impaired driving cases with plans to eventually expand in 2021 to handle traffic tickets. 

Under the proposed regulations, first-time offenders will be allowed to appeal their penalties to SafeRoads AB. The entire process will be scheduled to take no more than 30 days, says The Globe and Mail

Right now, if someone is caught drinking and driving in Alberta, they’re automatically charged criminally regardless of it is their first time or not, according to the Government of Alberta

If their blood alcohol is over 0.08 the driver will receive a three-day vehicle seizure, 90-day license suspension and a year of having to use a breathalyzer in their vehicle. 

Blood alcohol levels of 0.05 to 0.079 will face provincial consequences through the Immediate Roadside Suspension Program. 

Bill 21 does not get rid of criminal charges altogether. Repeat offenders and anyone who inflicts bodily harm or death on a person will face charges and increasing penalties

This could include forever using a breathalyzer system in their car. 

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer claimed that this method of legislation has proven to be successful in reducing crashes and saving lives, says The Edmonton Journal

The chief of the Edmonton Police Service, Dale McFee, also spoke with the Edmonton Journal and expressed that the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police is in support of the legislation. He said it cutes down “a considerable amount of court time."

There are currently two other Canadian provinces that have decriminalize first-time impaired driving offenders including B.C. and Manitoba. 

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.