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Legal Corner: What Is the Definition of Impaired Driving in Alberta?

Legal Corner: What Is the Definition of Impaired Driving in Alberta?

What is the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of impaired driving? For most people, the answer is alcohol, specifically, the act of driving while drunk. Drunk driving is, unfortunately, a common aspect of society in today’s world.

However, while most may assume that impaired refers to drunk, there are a number of “impairments” that can affect a driver’s abilities.

What Is Impaired Driving?

In Alberta, the term “impaired driving” is defined as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

So while drunk driving is the typical assumption, the use of any drugs prior to driving is just as dangerous and just as serious of an offence.

Regardless, an impaired driving charge can change your life forever.

The Statistics (Canada)

In 2015, the number of impaired driving incidents in Canada was at it’s lowest since 1986, at a rate of 201 incidents per 100,000 person population, with 72,039 incidents in total.

A total of 4% of these incidents were drug related, being an increase from previous years.

While the statistics show a consistent decrease in impaired driving incidents, there is still a long way to go before impaired driving is no longer an issue on Canadian roads.

Impaired driving remains the leading criminal related cause of death in the country. According to MADD Canada, in 2012 58% of vehicle crash deaths involved drivers with positive alcohol and/or drug readings.

What may come as a surprise is that majority of these drivers were under the influence of drugs (rather than alcohol), with cannabis being the most common.

The Alternatives

There are so many dependable, accessible, affordable and safe alternatives that getting behind the wheel while impaired should never be a contending option.

For example, one could: call a taxi or uber; take public transportation, such as a bus or train; ensure there is a designated driver in the group; call a friend or relative for a ride; walk or bike home; spend the night (if possible) and drive home in the morning; or refrain from drinking or doing drugs altogether if driving appears to be the only option.


No-one deserves to lose a father, mother, child, or friend because someone else made the selfish and foolish decision to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Impaired driving is never the answer.

Not only are the available alternatives safer for the individual driving, but also prevent harm from coming to innocent bystanders or other drivers on the road.