Author: Jill McBeth
Date: May 13, 2024

Roadcheck 2024: Focusing on Drugs and Alcohol

I wasn’t going write a blog about drugs and alcohol because I agree that a commercial driver should never be impaired while driving a commercial vehicle. However, I decided to write this blog because of how Alberta handles commercial drivers outside of the normal criminal charges. I understand the spirit and intent of the regulation and I agree with it. Where this regulation has challenges is the lack of immediate roadside testing. Commercial carriers and drivers need to be aware of these rules. Remember the Sheriffs are here for enforcement not education.  

This regulation lives in the Traffic Safety Act and the number is TSA 88.02(2)(A) if you want to check my work. If you are the driver of a commercial vehicle, there is zero tolerance on the consumption of drugs or alcohol. The immediate roadside sanction empowers Peace Officers to suspend a driver's license for three days and issue an administrative penalty (ticket) based solely on reasonable grounds to believe that the driver has consumed substances. This means that a formal test is not mandatory, leaving room for subjective judgment by enforcing officers.

Peace Officers in Alberta with powers under this regulation are:

  • police officer
  • member of a police service
  • investigator                       
  • peace officer appointed under the Peace Officer Act 
  • park warden
  • conservation officer
  • forest officer
  • wildlife officer

The driver of a commercial vehicle gets zero tolerance on the consumption of drugs or alcohol. This means if a driver had a couple of beers within a few hours of driving, the driver will not be at a zero BAC. A 250 lb man after 2 beers will need approximately 3.5 hours to reach a zero BAC. There are a lot of commercial vehicles that are used for both work and commercial. Drivers need to be reminded that commercial vehicles have zero tolerance unlike a personal vehicle.

It is important for commercial drivers to be aware of their rights and responsibilities under this regulation. Despite the lack of a required formal test, drivers have the option to demand a test TSA 88.11(1) to prove their sobriety if they believe they have been unjustly accused. Choosing to accept the penalty without contesting it could have long-lasting repercussions on the driver's record and the carrier will have points on the carrier profile.

If a driver does get an administrative penalty under this regulation there is only 7 days to appeal. This is not a criminal charge and the point is to have the matter resolved quickly. Any appeal is heard by an adjudicator, not a judge. It is crucial for drivers to understand that this is a serious matter and not simply a minor infraction like an overweight ticket or having a low tire.

I’m 100% against any form of impaired driving, and I also recognize people screw up. During Roadcheck all the inspectors are doing inspections because inspectors need inspection numbers to stay CVSA certified. If Roadcheck 2024 focus is on drugs and alcohol, let’s assume all the additional inspectors are looking for drugs and alcohol.  Make sure your drivers understand this isn’t a speeding ticket.