What’s the penalty for uttering the single word, “no?” If you’ve been asked by a police officer to provide a roadside breath test, the consequences of refusing can be grave.
Recently a PEI driver was stopped under suspicion of drunk driving. Upon being asked to blow into a breathalyzer, the driver refused.
Some people are under the impression that this is a wise move to refuse a breath test: it might confound the police and make it harder to be convicted. Their impression is mistaken.
Refuse a breath test: commit a criminal offense
While you won’t be physically forced to blow, the fact is that to refuse a breath test without a reasonable excuse anywhere in the country is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Moreover, you don’t have the right to consult a lawyer before performing a roadside test, though you do before taking a breathalyzer test at the station.
In this case the act brought on a severe reaction from the law. The PEI driver in question got 55 days in jail. He was also slapped with a $1200 fine and a $300 victim surcharge. He also had his licence taken away for 2 years.
All for refusing to exhale.
The fact that this was the driver’s second conviction for refusal probably added to the penalties. Like drunk driving convictions, refusal convictions garner added consequences when they multiply.
It might seem contradictory that PEI and the rest of Canada, with their strong protections of citizens’ rights, would compel persons to incriminate themselves by requiring them to blow. In fact, it’s not a matter of rights: driving is a privilege, one that citizens can obtain provided they attain a certain standard of skill, and obey the rules of the road. One of those rules is to comply with an officer’s demand for a breath sample.
PEI has more than its share of drunk drivers, which is why police are vigilant there. If you’re stopped, blowing into a breathalyzer can have major consequences.
But remember, so can not blowing into one.