If you’re stopped on a road in Ottawa and law enforcement officers suspect that you have been drinking, you may be asked to take a breath test.
Refusal to do so is treated as criminal defence, in addition to any other charges that you may face.
This is a serious situation that can have long-term negative consequences for your future.
As such, you need experienced legal representation as soon as possible to defend your rights, challenge the prosecution’s case against you, and provide the best chance of limiting the consequences.
We’ve defended over 1,000 Ottawa citizens against driving offence charges.
At such a stressful time. our attorneys are able to be the calming influence that you need.
We possess the technical and legal skills required to build the best possible defence in breath test refusal cases.
What is a breath refusal charge in Ottawa?
Powerful defence for breath test refusal in Ottawa
Defence in breath test refusal cases is often extremely technical.
It often depends upon:
- The actions of the police during the stop and arrest process
- The equipment used by the arresting officer(s)
- Defending your constitutional rights
The law now states that a law enforcement officer can request a breath sample at the roadside if you are stopped.
It’s important to seek representation from a lawyer who is experienced in the technicalities of the law and is experienced in defending these cases.
Understanding the breathalyzer test
The breathalyzer test is where you blow into a bag, which submits an initial reading of the alcohol content in your breath.
It is used by police as an initial indication of impaired driving and can now be requested even without “reasonable suspicion” that a driver is under the influence of alcohol.
This could be because of:
- The smell of alcohol on the breath
- Slurred speech
- A driving pattern
- An admission from the driver
This is important as the prosecution will need to prove “probable cause” if the case goes to trial.
If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you will not be physically forced to do so but the police will impose immediate penalties.
This applies even if you are convinced that you are under the legal limit.
Penalties for refusing a breath test in Ottawa
There can be serious immediate and longer-term consequences of refusing a breath test.
In fact, since December 2018, the penalties for breath test refusal are the same as if you are convicted of driving over 80 or impaired driving.
You will not have a chance to talk to a lawyer until after you have made a decision on the breath test.
Refusal will mean that your driver’s licence will be suspended immediately for up to 90 days, your vehicle will be impounded for seven days, and you will be charged.
Conviction for the charge can result in:
- Loss of your driver’s licence for at least a year
- A fine of $1,000 – $2,000
- A criminal record
- Mandatory alcohol and DUI counseling
That’s for a first offence. Repeat offenders can expect harsher penalties.
In the longer term, the loss of your driver’s licence may hamper you in many aspects of everyday life, including:
- Getting from A to B conveniently
- Collecting the children from school
- Family outings and vacations
Other consequences include:
- A criminal record for at least 10 years
- More expensive insurance after you resume driving
How will we defend you?
During consultation with you, we will analyze the facts and the evidence in your case.
The prosecution’s case against you carries a high burden of proof for you to be convicted.
Many people who plead guilty to driving charges are unaware that, even if the odds are stacked against them, prosecutors can and do make mistakes in the stop and arrest process. Sometimes the equipment they use can be questioned on technical grounds.
That’s why it’s so important to consult with a lawyer if you are charged.
Possible defences include:
- The demand was not lawful: police did not meet their obligations when asking for a sample
- The machine was not working properly and the breath sample registered as a failure
- You have a medical condition that prevents you from blowing hard enough to give a sample
We will look for weaknesses, inconsistencies or gaps in the evidence and hold prosecutors to the highest standards of conduct.
In this way, we will seek opportunities for case dismissal. If we need to go to trial, we will prepare the best possible case in your defence.