The Charge

The Criminal Code of Canada makes it an offence to drive a motor vehicle with too much alcohol in your blood. Specifically, an amount of alcohol in excess of 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood will place you “over the legal limit”.

This charge is related to, but different from, “impaired driving”. While one offence can be committed without the other, they are very commonly charged together.

Parliament has made laws permitting the police to demand that you give samples of your breath or blood if they believe you have been driving a motor vehicle while your ability to drive is impaired by alcohol. In addition, Parliament has made it offence to fail or refuse to provide such samples.

While the police are entitled to demand that you give samples off your breath or blood, they must respect your constitutional rights at every stage of the process, from the time you are pulled over until you are eventually released from the police station after giving breath samples. They must also comply with a number of procedures and deal with you as quickly as possible.


A law passed in Alberta automatically suspends the license of anyone charged with driving over .08. This Alberta Administrative License Suspension (AALS) lasts until the person’s criminal charges are dealt with. Depending on which city or town your charge originate in, that can mean a delay of anywhere between 90 days and an entire year.

The obvious intent of this law is to entice people to surrender their right to a trial and plead guilty so that they can get their license back as soon as possible, since the time spent on the provincial suspension cannot be credited towards any suspension that is imposed as a result of being found guilty.

Do not plead guilty for this reason! You may be able to get your license back without having to plead guilty. This involves making an argument to the Alberta Transportation Safety Board either orally or in writing.

Calgary Criminal Lawyers have considerable experience appearing before this board and have been successful in having their clients’ licenses returned to them pending the results of their criminal charges. At your free consultation, we will discuss this option with you.

In addition, we can ensure you get the speediest trial possible by frequently and diligently checking with the courts when availability arises.

It is vital that you do not drive while suspended; failing to obey your suspension could result in a charge for which your license will be automatically suspended for a further six months.

The Defence

Even experienced police officers make mistakes when dealing with people they suspect are driving with excess alcohol in their blood. However, detecting, exposing, and exploiting these mistakes at your trial takes experience, courage, and a sharp eye for detail.

And Calgary Criminal Lawyers bring all those qualities to your side.

The sooner you reach out to us, the quicker we can start preparing your defence. We record and preserve your side of the story when the events are freshest in your mind. We obtain all the police evidence against you quickly and easily. We review the case against you and can provide you with all available options.

To exploit any mistakes made by the police or prosecution, you need the benefit of experienced impaired/over .08 lawyers.

The stakes are high; the penalties for this offence can have major consequences on your life. In addition to a period of jail of up to 5 years, there are strict minimum sentences for driving “over .08” in the Criminal Code as follows: 

  • First conviction: fine of at least $1000; minimum 1 year driving suspension.
  • Second conviction: at least 30 days in jail; minimum 2 year driving suspension.
  • Third conviction: at least 120 days in jail; minimum 3 year driving suspension.

The Courts may make an exception for you if you present evidence that you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, and need medical treatment to manage that addiction. This is known as a “curative discharge”, and considered a rare exception to the mandatory jail sentences laid out above.

In order to satisfy the Court that you deserve a curative discharge, you must present complex medical evidence and the opinion of a healthcare specialist in a compelling, accurate, and persuasive way. We are experienced in bringing these applications, and we will explore this option at your free consultation. If this is an option you wish to explore, come and see a Calgary Criminal Lawyer immediately, as a number of steps need to be taken as soon as possible after you are charged.