1. Can I get my licence back before the first court date?
Under the current Alberta Administrative License Suspension (AALS) Program, every person charged with an alcohol/drug related driving offence receives a suspension of their licence for 90 days, followed by a further 1 year driving suspension. The first 90 day suspension has no exceptions. The following, further 12 month suspension can be lifted for individuals registered in the Ignition Interlock Program. It is possible to appeal your license suspension under the AALS prior to going to trial, but it is unlikely that you will be able to complete the appeal process prior to your first court date. Your first court date will like be within one month of the date you were charged and your license was suspended. You have 30 days from the offence date to submit an Application for Hearing to the Alberta Transportation Safety Board to appeal your AALS suspension, and the Board in turn has time to respond to your application. You have the choice to have your appeal heard orally, or to present written submissions, and the wait times are different depending on the type of appeal you choose. Regardless of the type of appeal, it is very unlikely that the process will be complete, and the Board will have a decision, prior to your first court date.
2. Can I get my licence back before trial?
There are two ways to get your licence back before trial. The first is to appeal your license suspension under the Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension (AALS) program. To appeal your license suspension, you must purchase an Application for Hearing form from an Alberta Registry. An application for an oral hearing costs $250, and an application for a written hearing costs $125. The completed application form must be received by the Alberta Transportation Safety Board within 30 days of the suspension being issued. A successful appeal must demonstrate, on the civil balance of probabilities standard, that you did not commit the impaired driving offence for which you have been charged. The Alberta Transportation Board will not consider hardship in determining whether to cancel the suspension of your license on appeal – it is not sufficient to demonstrate the negative impact the license suspension will have on your life while awaiting trial. The outcome of your appeal, whether successful or unsuccessful, will not affect the disposition of your criminal charges.
The second way to obtain your licence before trial is to apply for the Ignition Interlock Program (IIP). An application for the program can be purchased from any Alberta Registry for approximately $63. The application must then be filled out and submitted to Alberta Transpiration Driver Fitness and Monitoring, which can be done by email, regular mail, or in person. Approval may take up to 30 days, and you will be notified by mail once the Traffic Safety Board renders their decision. from there, you will have to book installation of the Interlock Device for your vehicle through Smart Start, at a cost of $145.00 for passenger vehicles, and $245.00 for commercial vehicles. You must also pay a reinstatement fee of approximately $210.00, and a new licence fee . Finally, there is a monthly fee of $95.00 for rental of the Interlock Device, and a removal fee of $50.00.
3. How quickly can I get my licence back if I plead guilty or am found guilty?
If you plead guilty or are found guilty, for a first offence, you will be subject to a one-year license disqualification under the Criminal Code of Canada, as well as a concurrent 1 year provincial suspension. This disqualification is a mandatory minimum sentence legislated by Parliament, and cannot be avoided upon conviction. However, you may be entitled to get your license back if you are accepted into the Alberta Ignition Interlock Program. This program requires you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, which tests your blood alcohol concentration via your breath prior to driving.
There are also a number of steps you will have to take including the following:
- Alberta Registry Ignition Interlock Application
- AMA Planning Ahead Course
- AMA IMPACT Course (for individuals convicted of second, or subsequent offence)
- Interlock Device Installation
- Restricted Driver’s Licence
- Interlock Device Rental
- Interlock Device Removal
The program costs are set out on the Alberta Transportation website below:
It is important to note that even if you apply for the IIP immediately upon finding of guilt, it may take more than 1 month to actually obtain your restricted driving privileges. The main delays center around obtaining approval from Driver Fitness and Monitoring, completing the AMA courses, and booking installation and inspection of the Interlock Device.
4. Do I get credit for the time I spend on suspension awaiting trial?
You cannot get credit for the time you spend on suspension while awaiting trial. While you are awaiting trial, your license is suspended pursuant to the Alberta Administrative License Suspension (AALS) Program. If you are convicted at trial, the pre-trial AALS suspension comes to an end, and the post conviction AALS suspension begins. Moreover, there is also a Criminal Code driving disqualification that results from a conviction, which is a separate prohibition that does not come into effect until you are found guilty of, or plead guilty to, the impaired driving charges you face. This means that regardless of how long your license was suspended under the AALS awaiting trial, this time cannot be credited towards the Criminal Code driving disqualification to which you will be subjected if you are found guilty or convicted.
5. How soon can I get my licence back if I win my DUI?
If your alcohol/drug driving related charges have been withdrawn, or if you have been acquitted at trial, the Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension does not automatically come to an end. The AALS Program operates independently of the Criminal Code of Canada charges, so the outcome of one does not necessarily impact the other. The only way to avoid the initial 90 day suspension, (an the subsequent 12 month suspension) that arises as a result of the police investigation, is to launch an AALS appeal, discussed above. It is critical to at least purchase and file the AALS Appeal form within 30 days of the initial suspension to preserve the right of appeal. You can then take your time to decide wither to proceed with the appeal, depending on the outcome of the criminal case. For further information about the interplay of the AALS Program, please contact our office and one of our lawyers would be more than happy to explain the process to you in more detail.