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Do you have to take a breathalyzer test?

If you are stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, do you have to take a breathalyzer test if the officer tells you to? Unfortunately, you do unless you want to face charges of refusing to comply with a police officer. You also do not have a right to request a lawyer before being subjected to roadside testing.

You can be charged with three different offences regarding impaired driving. The first one is for "operating or having the care or control of a motor vehicle while impaired," either by drugs or alcohol. The second offence is for having blood levels over 80 milligrams revealed by breath or blood samples. The third is for refusing to take a breathalyzer test when a police officer tells you to.

If you have been charged with any one of these offences, contact an attorney as soon as possible. You do not always have to plead guilty, and just as police have rights, you have rights, also. The police have a right to detain you for roadside testing "if they have a legitimate reason to suspect impaired driving." They also have a right to suspend your license on the spot if you fail a breathalyzer test.

If you are arrested, you have a right to contact an attorney, and the police must inform you of that right. They must also provide you a phone and a list of attorneys with contact information. You should also be afforded a reasonable amount of privacy to make your call.

Your attorney may be able to fight the evidence. They will take everything into account. Did the police have a reasonable suspicion for detaining you and did they follow all procedures properly? Was the breathalyzer used accurate and administered by a trained official? Eye witness evidence may be questioned, especially in the case of an accident.

These offences can be serious and affect your livelihood. They can be expensive, result in loss or suspension of license, increased insurance rates, jail sentences and fines.

Source: Calgary Legal Guidance, "Breathalyzer Offences," accessed Jan. 08, 2016

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