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. 

Provincial Sanctions for Drug-Impaired Driving

  • As of April 9, 2018 there will be 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 drug impaired drivers are the same as those that currently exist for criminal level alcohol-impaired driving, including: participation in a one-year ignition interlock program, remedial education, vehicle seizure and immediate 90-day licence suspension.
  • 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 choose not to participate in the ignition interlock program will remain suspended for their interlock term.

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