Breathalyzer Test

When is a Breathalyzer Test Performed?

Police forces throughout Ontario engage in a drunk driving prevention program known as R.I.D.E. which stands for Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere. This program allows police officers to stop vehicles and question the driver about whether they have recently consumed alcohol. In the event that a police officer suspects an individual who has been flagged in compliance with the R.I.D.E program of being intoxicated they may request a breath test. Drivers may also be stopped under “suspicion” of being intoxicated by police. For reasons such as erratic driving or multiple traffic violations and if the individual exhibits obvious signs of intoxication such as slurred speech, bloodshot/glassy eyes, reeks of alcohol or is unsteady on their feet, officers are legally required to issue an approved roadside-screening device demand (ASD). However in a situation where the individual shows all these signs they would qualify for immediate arrest on the reasonable and probable grounds that the necessary competence to operate a motor vehicle has been impaired by the consumption of alcohol.

Subsequent to the arrest of the individual the officer would then proceed to issue a formal demand for a breathalyzer test at the police station where the machine is housed. This means that the officer had reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the individual was operating or having either care or control of a motor vehicle while their ability was impaired. It is now a legal requirement that the individual is informed of their rights to a lawyer before giving breath samples as they are now legally detained. The individual must then be allowed to speak to the lawyer which they desire or make use of the duty counsel. While one sign of alcohol consumption, such as slurred speech or bloodshot eyes may warrant “suspicion”, it would not suffice as “reasonable and probable” grounds that the individual is impaired and should be detained.

What is a Breathalyzer or Intoxilyzer Test?

A breathalyzer, or its more recent successor an intoxilyzer, is an instrument utilized by police departments to test the blood alcohol level of an individual who has been detained for impaired driving as a result of alcohol consumption. The maximum Blood alcohol limit being 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood (0.08) if exceeded warrants the arrest and charge for impaired driving of an individual by the police. The test is also admissible in the event that the individual fails an approved roadside-screening device test administered to them. Unlike the approved roadside-screening device (ASD) the breathalyzer/intoxilyzer test are conducted by a “breath technician” who has been trained to operate the instrument. It is vital that the instrument is managed by a technician as, while it is perceived to be a fairly accurate means of calculating the blood alcohol level of an individual, they are not 100% accurate. In the event that there was a fault on the part of the technician or the machine was not maintained nor calibrated as it should be or the test was not administered correctly, the results of the reading may be affected.

This room for human and machine error, as well as the negligence of an officer to allow the driver reasonable opportunity to provide the breath sample, can result in the overturning of a breathalyzer result. Results can also be disputed in the event that the officer has not followed the correct legal procedure of demanding and conducting a breathalyzer exam and ensuring that the accused has fully understood what is both legally available to them and required of them. In situations where the officer has neglected his obligations this may result in a charge being dropped by the court. The defence team at The Law Firm of Ted Yoannou has an excellent track record at defending individuals accused of impaired driving. We can assist you as we have done and are continuing to do for many satisfied clients since 1993.


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