A Calgary DUI/DWI Danger You Need to Be Aware Of

You already know that being aware of Alberta's new DUI/DWI laws is important for anyone taking to Calgary's roads, but there's another potential danger you might not have heard about yet that can lead to an automatic criminal offence. Even if you're driving sober—which should, of course, be the case every time you get behind the wheel—it's possible to get a DUI/DWI-related offence. Knowing the law is always your best protection, so keep reading to make sure you don't inadvertently commit a criminal offence while driving.

Calgary Police Can Demand a Breath Sample From Any Driver Suspected of DUI/DWI

According to Section 254, subsection 2 of the Criminal Code:

"If a peace officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person has alcohol or a drug in their body and that the person has, within the preceding three hours, operated a motor vehicle...the peace officer may, by demand, require the person to comply with paragraph (a), in the case of a drug, or with either or both of paragraphs (a) and (b), in the case of alcohol:

(a) to perform forthwith physical coordination tests prescribed by regulation...

(b) to provide forthwith a sample of breath that, in the peace officer’s opinion, will enable a proper analysis to be made by means of an approved screening device and, if necessary, to accompany the peace officer for that purpose."

In other words, if a Calgary police officer has a valid reason to suspect you have alcohol in your system, they can require you to provide a sample of your breath into an approved screening device. Refusing to comply with this request can have immediate consequences. According to subsection 5 of the same Section:

"Everyone commits an offence who, without reasonable excuse, fails or refuses to comply with a demand made under this section."

Read that again and let it sink in. If you don't have a "reasonable excuse" to refuse or otherwise fail to provide a breath sample into an approved screening device when a police officer has grounds to request one, you may be charged with an offence. It doesn't matter what your BAC is. The offence is not the same charge as a DUI/DWI, but it is a serious criminal charge that can be tried as an indictable offence or a summary offence and carries a minimum penalty of $1,000 for a first offence, imprisonment of not less than 30 days for a second offence, and imprisonment for not less than 120 days for each subsequent offence.

The Criminal Offence is Automatic, Your Conviction in Calgary Courts is Not

Like any other criminal offence, if you are charged with an offence under Section 254(5), you will have an opportunity to raise a defence against the charge. Beating an accusation made under this subsection can be complex, and often depends on a knowledge of case law and a detailed understanding of the circumstances surrounding the breath analysis request. In these cases, it might be in your best interest to consult with an experienced Calgary criminal defence lawyer.

If you or a family member has been charged with a failure or refusal to comply with a roadside breath demand, whether or not it is accompanied by a DUI/DWI charge, you are encouraged to contact Calgary lawyer Susan Karpa today.

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