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Freeing up police and courts to make Alberta safer (video)

Government has introduced Bill 21, the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act, which would help restore justice system capacity and make our roads safer.

If passed, Alberta will create a simplified, accessible and swift system for resolving matters involving most first-time impaired driving and other traffic safety offences. By removing these matters from the court system, we will save thousands of hours of police and court time per year, ensuring Alberta’s prosecutors and courts are able focus on the most serious justice matters and more police are patrolling the streets.

This bill would introduce a new Immediate Roadside Sanction program in late 2020 that would keep our roads safer by providing serious, immediate and escalating consequences for all impaired drivers – a system that has been proven to significantly reduce impaired driving and especially impaired driving fatalities in other jurisdictions.

“We have heard loud and clear from Albertans that they are frustrated with seeing cases dropped because of the court backlog we inherited from the previous government. This legislation proposes smart administrative changes that will ensure our courts and police can keep our communities safe by focusing on serious and violent crime.” Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

New zero-tolerance consequences for novice drivers and commercial drivers will also be introduced, as will new fines, longer vehicle seizures, mandatory education and lengthy periods of ignition interlock. Repeat offenders, impaired drivers who cause bodily harm or death, and other more serious cases will still receive criminal charges in addition to the other penalties.

While all impaired drivers will face immediate consequences, the government is also creating a faster and more accessible way of resolving disputes to enhance public safety by keeping impaired drivers off the roads. Under the new model, non-criminally-charged drivers can quickly and easily review their tickets online and have their matter completed within 30 days.

“Impaired driving is a very serious offence. I’m proud Alberta is adopting a proven system that reduces impaired driving and impaired driving fatalities. We will get police back on the street to focus on fighting crime instead of bogged down in the courts.” Ric McIver, Minister of Transportation
“This announcement is good news for policing and the justice system as a whole. With court time being used more appropriately, we will have increased capacity to begin repairing the damage caused by impaired driving and follow other successful models in reducing traffic collisions that cause serious injury or death. An expedient, simplified traffic system also means officers are granted more time in our communities to focus on reducing crime and victimization.” Dale McFee, chief, Edmonton Police Service, and president, Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police
“MADD Canada welcomes these new laws and sanctions. These streamlined administrative options for certain offenders have proven very effective at reducing impaired driving and saving lives in other provinces. They will do the same in Alberta. We thank the Government of Alberta for its leadership and ongoing efforts to prevent impaired driving.” Andrew Murie, chief executive officer, MADD Canada

The new impaired driving administrative model is based on changes made in British Columbia, which has seen their rates of impaired driving incidents drop by 36 per cent from 2011 to 2018 and the number of impaired driving fatalities fall by 54 per cent from 2010 to 2018.

Dealing with traffic tickets If passed, Bill 21 would also create an administrative process for dealing with non-criminal traffic offences. The new online system would be introduced in late 2021 and would be easier and quicker for Albertans to navigate.

These tickets, currently dealt with by the courts, will be handled online by administrative adjudicators – removing almost two million tickets from the courts. This system will be easier to use and Albertans will have their matters dealt with in 30 days, not months or years after the fact to ensure impaired drivers are off the roads as soon as possible.

Quick facts Increased impaired driving consequences will include:

  • Fines of up to $2,000.

  • Increasing length of vehicle seizure from three days to 30.

  • New mandatory education programs for repeat offenders.

  • New and longer periods of mandatory ignition interlock, especially for repeat impaired drivers.

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