FAQs

What are Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS)?

In December 2020, Alberta introduced the Immediate Roadside Sanction (IRS) Program to replace the Alberta Administrative License Suspension program.

This legislation has wide-reaching implications for drivers suspected of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Alberta.

What is an Immediate Roadside Sanction (IRS)

What is an Immediate Roadside Sanction (IRS)?

If a law enforcement officer in Alberta has reasonable grounds to believe that a driver is impaired (or, in some cases, operating a vehicle with any alcohol in their system), an immediate roadside sanction can be imposed.

So, even an allegation from a law enforcement officer of driving under the influence can result in your license being suspended.

There are several different types of sanctions but all result in an immediate license suspension, meaning that you will not be able to drive for a set period.

While the suspensions are legislated under the Traffic Safety Act, you may still face criminal charges as impaired driving is a criminal offence in Alberta and across Canada.

You are more likely to face criminal charges as well as an administrative license suspension if you exceeded the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit, and:

  1. You have a prior conviction(s) for impaired driving, and/or
  2. You have caused injury to another road user, and/or
  3. Children were in the vehicle.

What are the different types of IRS sanctions?

If you are subject to an IRS, you will be served with a Notice of Administrative Penalty detailing the type of IRS, the penalty, and the reason(s) for your license suspension.

There are five different types of sanctions, which are summarized below:

  1. IRS: 24-Hour: applied when a peace officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that you have consumed alcohol or drugs and it is affecting your physical or mental abilities. A low threshold of evidence is required for this sanction. It results in:
  • An immediate driving suspension for 24 hours
  • Possible seizure of your vehicle for 24 hours
  • Possible seizure of your driver’s license
  1. IRS: Novice: imposed upon drivers with a learner’s or probationary licence who are suspected of having any alcohol in their blood (remember, the legal limit for these drivers is zero). It results in:
  • An immediate driving suspension for 30 days
  • Possible seizure of your vehicle for 7 days
  • A fine of $200 plus a victim fine surcharge
  • Possible reinstatement conditions for your licence
  1. IRS: Commercial: for drivers operating a commercial vehicle and suspected of having any alcohol or illicit drugs in their system, the sanctions are serious. Depending on whether it is your first or subsequent offence, it can result in:
  • An immediate driving suspension for 3 – 30 days
  • A fine of $300 – $1200 plus a victim fine surcharge
  • Possible reinstatement conditions for your licence
  1. IRS: Warn: applied when a peace officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a driver has a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08, i.e., less than that required to prosecute under the Criminal Code but still considered to impair driving: Depending on whether it is your first or subsequent offence, it can result in:
  • An immediate driving suspension for 3 – 30 days
  • Seizure of your vehicle for 3 – 7 days
  • A fine of $300 – $1200 plus a victim fine surcharge
  • Participation in an education course
  1. IRS: Fail: the most serious sanction, imposed when a peace officer has reasonable grounds to suspect 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. It can also be imposed if you refuse a test. Depending on whether it is your first or subsequent offence, it can result in:
  • A criminal charge
  • An immediate driving suspension for 90 days
  • Seizure of your vehicle for 30 days
  • A fine of $1,000 – $2,000 plus a victim fine surcharge
  • Participation in Alberta’s Ignition Interlock Program for 12 months, 36 months or life
  • Participation in an education course

IRS and the Ignition Interlock Program

An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a mini breathalyzer installed in a vehicle to prevent the driver from starting the engine if any alcohol is detected in the breath.

This is a mandatory requirement for anyone sanctioned at the roadside for an IRS Fail (see above).

The IID allows you to drive if you have been sanctioned but only under strict conditions and, because of the perceived success of these programs in Alberta and elsewhere, higher Ignition Interlock Program participation rates can be expected in the future.

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