Maureen Currie is an experienced lawyer in impaired or driving over 80 offences in the Milton, Mississauga, Hamilton, Oakville, Burlington, Niagara Region & Brampton areas.
When can a Breath Sample be Requested?
The Criminal Code of Canada outlines the circumstances under which a police officer can request the operator of a motor vehicle to provide a breathe sample, whether by a road side screening device or by an approved instrument to determine the concentration of alcohol in blood.
Penalty for Refusing to provide a sample
Many of the penalties associated with refusing to provide a sample are the same as they are for impaired driving, and can be found under section 255 of the Criminal Code. See the criminal code penalty chart
For a first conviction, the mandatory minimum penalty for refusing to provide a sample or impaired driving is a $1,000 fine. If you receive a second conviction for either refusing to provide a sample or impaired driving, there is a mandatory minimum penalty of 30 days in jail, and a further mandatory minimum of 120 days in jail for each subsequent offence. The maximum penalty for refusing to provide a sample is 18 months in jail upon summary conviction, and a maximum of 5 years in jail where the offence is prosecuted by indictment. Where a person is convicted of refusing to provide a sample, and where the operation of the motor vehicle caused an accident resulting in bodily harm or death to another person, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
Penalty under the Highway Traffic Act
Pursuant to section 41(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, a conviction for failing to provide a sample also carries a mandatory 1 year licence suspension for a first conviction, a 3 year licence suspension for a subsequent conviction within a 10 year period of the previous conviction, and upon a third conviction with 10 years of the subsequent conviction, your licence will be suspended indefinitely. If your licence is suspended indefinitely, you cannot apply to have your licence reinstated until 10 years have passed since your previous conviction, and you have not had any other driving offences in that 10 year period.
Refusing to provide a sample can be an offence as serious as impaired driving and unfortunately may not afford as many legal defences as a blowing over charge does.