Impaired driving charges are the same regardless of the substance causing the impairment, whether they be drugs or alcohol. 

Penalties for drug-impaired driving and alcohol-impaired driving are the same:

  • First offence: $1,000 fine, 12-month licence suspension and a possible jail sentence of up to 18 months.
  • Second offence: minimum 30 days in jail and a two-year licence suspension.
  • Third or subsequent offence: minimum of 120 days in prison, three-year driving prohibition.
  • Causing bodily harm or death while driving impaired: maximum 10-years in prison or life sentence. 

Drivers, especially young drivers, need to be aware that other causes of impairment (illicit drugs, prescription drugs, recreational drugs, over-the-counter drugs and fatigue) can impair one’s ability to operate a vehicle safely and police have the tools to assist in the detection of drug-impaired drivers. 

Changes to drugged driving laws

  • Expanded zero tolerance for drivers in the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. In addition to zero tolerance for alcohol, there will be zero tolerance for cannabis, cannabis/alcohol combination and illegal drugs in the blood stream.
  • Provincial sanctions for drivers with a blood drug concentration or blood drug/alcohol concentration over the limits outlined in regulations under the Criminal Code of Canada. The sanctions will be the same as those for existing criminal impaired-driving offences, such as alcohol-impaired driving, including:
  • An immediate 90-day, fixed-term licence suspension for drivers who meet the criteria to be charged for impaired driving under the Criminal Code of Canada, followed by participation in a one-year provincial ignition interlock program. Drivers who do not participate will remain suspended for the year. This replaces the previous sanction that suspended a driver's licence until the outcome of criminal court proceedings.

To find out more about proposed changes to Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act visit