Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Calgary police say plan ahead to avoid stiff penalties from impaired driving this summer

July is the start of impaired driving awareness month in Canada, and in Calgary, police are asking drivers to be smart and plan ahead to avoid the consequences of drunk driving.

Calgary police have seen a dramatic rise in the number of impaired driving cases over the past three years, going from just under 500 impaired driving charges in 2021, to more than 1,000 to date this year.

“It is important to remember, whether you choose to imbibe in drugs or alcohol, that never is mixed with driving,” said Staff Sergeant Robert Patterson, with the Calgary Police Service Traffic Section.

“The key to doing this safely is to have a plan in advance—don’t decide how you’re going to get home after you’re impaired.”

SSgt. Patterson said that drugs and alcohol can lead to poor choices being made, and that when decisions are made in advance, everyone gets home safely.

Some of the options available to Calgarians to get home safely, and without charges, include having a designated driver, taking public transit, taking a taxi or using a ride-share provider, using a Driver’s alternative service, or simply staying the night if you’re out with friends or family.

“There’s no excuse nowadays for not having an alternative way home. We’ve seen more options than we’ve ever seen before. Certainly more than what I saw when I was a youth,” Patterson said.

He said that CPS knows many drivers are making good decisions, and that the messaging this summer is directed towards Calgarians because of the rising number of charges being laid.

“We realize that the vast majority of people out there are making good choices. Our roads are not completely plagued by impaired drivers, but that important piece to remember is it’s everyone’s responsibility,” Patterson said.

“So if you’re hosting a party, make sure that you give those options. If you have a friend that’s choosing to drive impaired, try to stop them, don’t let these things happen. Become a culture within your friends, within your families, within your social groups to make this unacceptable as a choice.”

Consequences of impairment means loss of licence and vehicle

SSgt. Patterson said that with the passing of Bill 21, also known as the Alberta Provincial Administrative Penalties Act, it is easier for Calgary Police officers to process impaired drivers and to deliver immediate roadside sanctions.

Bill 21 also makes screening for drugs and alcohol mandatory, he said.

“Unlike in the past, where often they would ask you if you’re going to have something to drink, they are going to take a test from your roadside under the mandatory alcohol screening,” he said.

“So whether or not you’ve admitted to take, you know ingesting alcohol or drugs, they will be putting you on a roadside screening device.”

He said that for everyone who is clean, they will be thanked for driving sober and sent on their way.

“Obviously, if you fail, you’ll be immediately dealt with through immediate roadside sanctions, which would involve suspension of your driver’s license and seizure of your motor vehicle,” Patterson said.