Are You Allowed To Refuse A Breathalyzer Test?

March 22, 2019

Are You Allowed To Refuse A Breathalyzer Test?

Refusing a breathalyzer test can lead to a criminal conviction in situations where a police officer has valid grounds to request a breath sample. People who don’t know their rights often go through stressful situations when police reach them to investigate this matter.

Needles to say that driving while drunk is legally prohibited in Canada, law enforcement agencies use several methods to determine whether or not a person has consumed alcohol or drugs while operating a motor vehicle in the last three hours. The breathalyzer is a commonly used method to detect the sign of alcohol in an individual’s bloodstream. In case a police officer requests a roadside breath test, refusing to comply can lead to a criminal charge and often cause suspension of your license.

Do you have the right to contact a criminal lawyer?

Whether you can contact a criminal lawyer first or not depends on your situation. In Alberta, there are two types of screening devices used to determine the levels of intoxication: Approved Instrument (AI) and Approved Screening Device (ASD). If you are requested to provide a breath sample through ASD, you don’t have the right to contact a lawyer before providing the sample. While the result produced by an ASD is not conclusive, it can determine whether or not more testing is required.

On the other hand, you do have the right to talk to a lawyer before providing a sample for an Approved Instrument (AI) which displays a numerical reading indicating the concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream. The findings of AI can be used in court as evidence to declare you guilty of driving under the influence (DUI).


In Edmonton and across Canada, if you’re stopped by the police and asked to blow into a breathalyzer, which is a lawful demand, you have to comply or your action will be considered as a criminal offence.

If you fail to provide a breath sample, you can receive the same penalties as if you were charged with impaired driving. If it’s your first offence, you can have your license suspended and receive a fine of $1000. In addition to 30 days in jail, you can get your license suspended for three years or more in case of a second offence. A lengthy license suspension and penalty of a minimum of 120 days in prison is what the offender can get for a third-time offence.

The penalties for refusing a breathalyzer can be harsh and almost similar to penalties for DUI charges. In order to regain your license, you may have to join a rehabilitation program or mandatory alcohol counseling. Being convicted of such a crime can also lead to higher insurance rates and a criminal record. Therefore, it’s not wise to refuse to blow and take a breathalyzer test.

If you have been charged with refusing to provide a breath sample or charged with a DUI, talk to a credible DUI lawyer to know your options. If you’re located in Edmonton or surrounding area, contact one of our criminal lawyers in Edmonton to get the legal representation you need so we can help get your charges dropped. Call us now to schedule a free consultation!

Preserve Your Rights By
Contacting Darin H. Slaferek

We specialize in criminal law, delivering ethical, effective, and efficient legal solutions that prioritize the best interests of our clients.