How Much Can Your Drink and Drive in Alberta in 2023

Drink and drive laws in Alberta Canada

The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in Alberta is 0.50 mg or 0.05% gram. This limit is lower and stricter compared to other provinces in Canada.

In Alberta, one in every six drivers involved in fatal incidents had drunk before the collision. In comparison, approximately one out of every 32 drivers is engaged in an injury collision.

The Alberta government has passed rules prohibiting drunk driving in response to the rising number of incidents caused by impaired driving. The intention of Alberta’s impaired driving law is to deter drunk driving and keep impaired motorists off the road. This law applies to all drivers in Alberta.

It is not prohibited to drink and drive in Alberta. However, they have set a limit on the allowable amount of alcohol to drive. You are breaching the law if alcohol or drugs even slightly impair your driving ability.

Before we discuss how much alcohol is authorized while driving in Alberta, please know that the purpose of this article is purely educational. It should not be interpreted as an encouragement to drink and drive.

We recommend taking a cab or hiring a designated driver if you must travel after drinking. It is also essential to be updated with the current laws related to impaired driving, so regularly checking the province’s official website is a must.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Alberta

Although some people vehemently support neglecting alcohol before driving, it is legal to consume a little alcohol before driving.

Different regions in Canada set different regulations and allowable BAC limits.

The Government of Alberta enforces administrative penalties for drivers whose BAC is between .05% (50 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood) and.079% (or 79 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood), which is below the legal limit corresponding to the Criminal Code of Canada.

Accidents involving alcohol have decreased in regions with 0.05 BAC limits, according to research on BAC penalties.

Each person processes alcohol differently. Your BAC can vary depending on several variables, including:

  • your gender
  • your size
  • an empty stomach
  • medications
  • mood
  • fatigue level
  • the consumption rate

Even a modest amount of alcohol might cause some people to become drunk. No matter how much you drink, evaluating your ability to drive is crucial. Use a reliable alcohol breathalyzer to determine your blood alcohol concentration.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Alberta

Alberta’s 2015 Traffic Collison Statistics report shows that one in every five drivers involved in deadly vehicle accidents had drunk before the collision. On the other hand, an average of one out of every 32 drivers are involved in an injury collision.

A blood alcohol content of 0.05% increases the likelihood of being in an accident. As the BAC climbs, so does the risk. 

In a comprehensive literature analysis, it was found that significant impairment and consequences on driving ability by 0.05%. Multiple skill domains were affected, such as attention, perception, psychomotor skills, and reaction time. If the driver has consumed alcohol, the probability of dying in an accident rises.

The likelihood that a driver will be in a collision also rises if they have consumed alcohol. Because most people’s ability to drive is compromised at 0.05%, the likelihood of being in a collision typically rises.

Alberta, like all other provinces in Canada, has a provincial sanction for impaired driving governed by the federal government under the criminal code.

Even after enforcing strict laws, drunk drivers have been steadily increasing. As a result, Alberta’s impaired driving statute was amended. Penalties at 0.05% BAC would not prevent people from drinking in public, but they may deter binge drinking.

Learning about Alberta’s legislation about impaired driving will help you understand the law and follow it. 

If someone is found guilty of impaired driving in Alberta, they may face various penalties. Let us look at the list and understand the sanctions.

Vehicle Seizure

When someone drives intoxicated, they will face some restrictions. To begin, the basic activity of the accountable police is car seizure.

Seizure of a Driver’s License

The driving license is also confiscated after the vehicles are seized. The license may be permanently revoked if this type of violation occurs repeatedly. Each time impaired driving occurred, the period of license suspension was prolonged.

Imposition of a Fine

Imposing fines is a more common method of punishing offenders. A fine will be imposed on anyone who drives while impaired. The sum will be in the thousands of dollars or more. The fine rate will increase for second-time offenses.


While imprisonment is not a punishment for a first-time offender, demonstrating intent results in imprisonment. Drunk driving is always dangerous. Driving in those conditions on purpose is incitement to a tragedy. In such a case, proving guilt will result in jail time as punishment.

Furthermore, impaired driving will have your name in the record book. The insurance rate will be substantially higher, potentially increasing up to 300%. Additionally, a conviction for intoxicated driving could result in a lifetime license suspension.

Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS) Program Overview

Under the Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS) Program, there are five separate programs for every impaired driving case, according to the most recent statute.

Knowing the following five programs can help you understand impaired driving rules, regulations, and penalties.

IRS FAIL Program

The IRS fail program is run in accordance with Section 88.1 of Canada’s Traffic Safety Act. It will apply to drivers when law enforcement has reasonable grounds to assume that the driver is impaired.

The program will apply to all prescription and non-prescription medicines, both legal and illegal, that have the same potential to induce impairment.

These grounds are as follows:

  • Someone drove a car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and their ability to do so was impaired in some way.
  • Within two hours of ceasing to operate any motor vehicle, a person’s BAC equals or surpasses 80 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood.
  • Within two hours of stopping any motor vehicle, someone’s blood drug concentration equals or exceeds the blood drug concentration for the medications prescribed and administered under the Criminal Code of Canada.
  • Someone has consumed both drugs and alcohol, and their blood drug and alcohol concentration is equal to or surpasses the limit set by the Criminal Code of Canada within two hours after stopping driving.

You can request that the police do it. Your administrative penalty notice will be canceled if the result of the test is below any unlawful blood drug or alcohol concentration.

If the result is higher than the prohibited blood drug or alcohol content, law enforcement will confirm the administrative penalty notification.

IRS WARN Program

This program is intended for drivers with blood alcohol concentrations ranging from 0.05% to 0.079%. This is also a valid justification for law enforcement to suspect intoxicated driving.

You also have the option of filing an urgent roadside appeal, which allows you to request that police authorities conduct another test.

If the second test result falls below the forbidden level, your administrative penalty letter will be canceled.

IRS ZERO Program: Novice

This program was created for new and graduated drivers. When driving, they should have zero blood alcohol levels.

In someone drives with any amount of BAC, he or she will face penalties from law enforcement because, according to Alberta’s new impaired driving law, this is also a reasonable justification.

You will also receive the prior two programs’ immediate roadside punishment. Your driver’s license will be suspended again after receiving the administrative penalty notification.

Following then, a suspension confirmation email will be issued to your email address.

IRS ZERO Program: Commercial

This program is for drivers who operate commercial vehicles. According to Alberta’s latest impaired driving law, drivers who operate commercial vehicles must have zero alcohol levels in their blood under any circumstances.

This one is a very significant program for improving road safety nowadays. Commercial industry stakeholders also agreed with this zero-tolerance law for commercial drivers.

The IRS Zero program: commercial will apply to drivers who are:

  • Operating a registered commercial vehicle that has more than 11,794 kg weight.
  • Operating a commercial vehicle that has more than ten passenger seating capacity.

IRS Program of IRS: 24-Hour

This program is for drivers who may be suspected of operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or other medical condition.

Driving precision may be compromised in this circumstance, endangering the safety of all road users. Law enforcement officials will revoke the suspected driver’s license for a period of 24 hours as punishment.

Alberta Transportation’s Driver Fitness and Monitoring officials can then analyze the impaired driver’s records to establish their condition.

When Can You Drink and Drive in Alberta?

The effects of alcohol may differ from person to person. While the following information is based on research, it does not apply to everyone. Each of us has a unique alcohol tolerance, and our bodies absorb alcohol differently. In order to have a better understanding on BAC level check this BAC calculator.

How Many Beers Can You Drink and Drive in Alberta?

A 341 ml (12 oz.) bottle or glass of beer has 5% alcohol. If you have two beers in two hours and weigh between 120 and 140 pounds (54 to 63 kilograms), your blood alcohol level may be close to .05. After three beers, you’d have consumed too much alcohol.

Men weighing 160 to 200 pounds (72 to 90 kilograms) who consume four beers in two hours will exceed the.05 limits.

How Much Wine Can You Drink and Drive in Alberta?

One glass of wine (142 mL/5oz.) contains 12% alcohol. Drinking two glasses of wine in two hours may put you in the danger zone for impairment, depending on your age, weight, and other factors.

How Many Shots of Vodka or Whiskey Can You Drink and Drive in BC?

40% alcohol is included in a shot of distilled alcohol or spirits, which is 43 ml (1.5 oz). You could reach close to a.05 blood alcohol level after two drinks in two hours.

Safe Driving in Alberta

There are many alternative safe ways to get home, so there is no excuse to drive while intoxicated.

Even if you have just had a few shots or bottles, it is still preferable to avoid driving at all, even though there is a legal limit for blood alcohol content. The best options are to call a friend, take a cab, or use public transportation, ride-hailing services, or taxis.

If you must drive, ensure that your blood alcohol concentration is within the state or province’s legal limit. Ensure you are updated with the province’s traffic laws. Use a reliable breathalyzer to assess your blood alcohol content accurately.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.

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