Refusal to blow - charge dismissed
The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench (Alberta's Superior Court) recently dismissed a charge of refusing to provide a breath sample into a roadside screening device despite proof that the defendant wasted approximately 14 minutes of time arguing with the police officers and begging for leniency.
Every person has a legal obligation to blow into a roadside machine unless the officer lacks proper grounds to make such a demand such for a breath sample, and the failure to do so is an offence. However, before a charge of refusal can be made out, the person's refusal must necessarily be "clear and unequivocal". This does not mean a person can waste a bunch of time protesting and never actually "refuse", because eventually a person will be "deemed" to have refused after been given a sufficient amount of time to comply. Here, however, the officers never specfically told the defendant he would be deemed to have refused. In that sense, the Alberta Queen's Bench is really saying that unless the officer's first give you an ultimatum and say words to the effect of "unless you blow, you will be deemed to have refused" then the refusal is not clear and unequivocal.
Case Name: R. v. Sangha
Neutral Citation: 2011 ABQB 656