FAQs

How Long is the IRS Suspension?

If you receive an Immediate Roadside Sanction (IRS) in Alberta, the police officer handling your case will serve you with a Notice of Administrative Penalty.

This notice will detail the type of sanction, the associated penalty, and the reason(s) for your license suspension.

How Long Will My IRS Suspension Be

The first thing you will want to know is how long your suspension lasts. This will largely depend on the following factors:

  • Your license type
  • Your actions behind the wheel, as perceived by the police officer
  • The results of your breathalyzer test

Let’s look at the suspension duration for the five main sanction types and how you may be able to contest the suspension.

Your suspension depends on your IRS sanction type

The five different types of sanctions in Alberta and their associated licence suspensions are summarized below:

IRS: 24-Hour

This is imposed if a peace officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that you have consumed alcohol or drugs and it is affecting your physical or mental abilities. It results in an immediate driving suspension for 24 hours and other penalties.

IRS: Novice

This sanction is imposed on drivers with a learner’s or probationary licence who are suspected of having any alcohol in their blood. It results in an immediate driving suspension for 30 days and other penalties.

IRS: Commercial

This sanction is imposed on drivers who operate a commercial vehicle and are suspected of having any alcohol or illicit drugs in their system. Suspension durations increase according to whether it is your first or subsequent offence:

  • For first-time offenders, the suspension is for three days
  • For second-time offenders, the suspension is for 15 days
  • For third-time or subsequent offenders, the suspension is for 30 days

IRS: Warn

This sanction is applied when a peace officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a driver has a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08. That is, less than that required to prosecute under the Criminal Code but enough to impair driving. Suspension durations increase according to whether it is your first or subsequent offence:

  • For first-time offenders, the suspension is for three days
  • For second-time offenders, the suspension is for 15 days
  • For third-time or subsequent offenders, the suspension is for 30 days

IRS: Fail

This is the most serious sanction you can receive. It is imposed when a peace officer suspects that you operated a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs or failed an alcohol or drug test within two hours of operating the vehicle. If you refuse a test, you will also receive this IRS.

The suspension duration is for 90 days, after which you will need to participate in Alberta’s Ignition Interlock Program.

NOTE: For a more complete overview of the penalties associated with each sanction type, please refer to our post on What are Immediate Roadside Sanctions?

You only have seven days to appeal your suspension

If you receive an immediate roadside sanction, it is possible to request a review of your case by SafeRoads Alberta but you will have to be quick (and there is a fee to pay).

An IRS review must be initiated no later than seven days after receiving the suspension. Instructions on how to appeal are included on the back of your notice of administrative penalty.

Late reviews are permitted only in exceptional circumstances (such as incapacitation) and it is best not to delay the process.

If you are successful in getting your case heard by SafeRoads, your appeal must then be resolved within 30 days.

You can initiate an appeal by following these steps:

  1. Log in to the SafeRoads online portal and enter your details (within seven days of your suspension)
  2. Request a review of your case – which incurs a non-refundable fee of $150
  3. Schedule your review at a convenient date/time (within 21 days of the suspension date)
  4. Upload your written argument and supporting documents (e.g., witness statements, photographs, affidavit, etc.) at least two days before the scheduled review date

You will receive written notification of the decision by SafeRoads within 30 days of your suspension. If the decision is in your favour, you can go to an Alberta Registry Agent to retrieve your license.

It can be advantageous to hire an experienced impaired driving lawyer to contest your suspension because detail and technical accuracy are required for a favourable decision.

An experienced lawyer can argue on various grounds for the suspension to be overturned, including one of several technical defences, violation of Charter rights, factual innocence (you are not guilty of the offence), or you had a reasonable excuse for your actions.

Cory Wilson can help you prepare your appeal against your suspension including preparing your affidavit to support your arguments.

Call us to arrange a confidential consultation

To speak with Cory Wilson or arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with Wilson Criminal Defence, call 403-978-6052 or email us here.