Imagine you’re driving along, minding your own business, and you see police lights flashing in your rear view mirror. If you’re just coming home from work or school and haven’t been speeding, it’s probably not a big deal to be stopped by the police. But if you’ve been drinking? Those lights in your rear view mirror are a sign that you could be in a lot of trouble.
Drinking and driving is a choice made by the driver, and there are consequences to that decision. From the moment you roll down your window to speak to the officer, he’ll be assessing you to find out if you’ve been drinking. Maybe you’ve got alcohol on your breath or you’re slurring your words – it doesn’t matter what signs of impairment the officer sees, if he or she suspects you’ve been drinking and driving, they are going to ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test to confirm.
At this point you might be thinking, ‘Can I say no to the breathalyzer?’ After all, if the officer can’t officially prove you’ve been drinking and driving, you may be able to drive away with your license intact and be free of any potential penalties. But for Canadians stopped for impaired driving, it’s a really bad idea to refuse the breathalyzer.
Saying no is not going to help you if you want to avoid penalties. That’s because in most provinces, if you refuse the breathalyzer, you’ll be charged with a criminal offense. The penalties for refusing the breathalyzer include license suspension, possible vehicle impoundment, and an ignition interlock requirement. Long story short, refusing the breathalyzer will net you almost the same penalties as a drinking and driving conviction. Your insurance rates could go up too, and you may even have to spend time in jail. If you’ve ever wondered how breathalyzers take your blood alcohol concentration, take a look at How Breathalyzers Work.
Instead of having to wonder how you’ll evade punishment for drinking and driver, do the right thing and don’t drink before you get behind the wheel. If you’d like to brush up on your provinces’ impaired driving laws, take a look at the latest ignition interlock and impaired driving laws in Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta.