The Supreme Court is examining the law on breathalysers

OTTAWA – The Canadian Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that depends on the time it took the police to arrange a breath test for a man from Quebec.

Early one afternoon in April 2017, police were notified of a person allegedly driving an off-road vehicle while drunk, arrived at the scene and stopped Pascal Breault, who was walking away.

Asked if he had been drinking, Breault said he had been given a beer but insisted he had not driven the vehicle, contradicting track patrols who had contacted police.

Officers did not have an approved screening device – used to take an initial breath test prior to a full breathalyzer test of blood alcohol levels – so they sent other nearby officers on the radio to get a device.

Breault repeatedly refused to provide a breath test and was found guilty of failing to comply with a police officer’s request, even though there was no device on the scene and one never arrived.

Breault was acquitted when the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that the officer’s claim was invalid because of a provision which at the time required that an exhalation test be given “immediately.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 18, 2021.

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