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What happens if I refuse a breath test in Alberta?

Having a DUI on one's record can affect a person's life in numerous ways. Besides criminal consequences, there is often a great deal of stigma associated with a drunk driving conviction. That is why it is so important for those accused of impaired driving-related offences to have a strong criminal defence strategy.

One Edmonton man may need just that after authorities claim that he was drunk and struck a bicyclist with his SUV. According to police reports, the incident took place on Highway 2 near Red Deer. The 32-year-old cyclist was pronounced dead at the scene by RCMP. The driver of the vehicle refused to take a Breathalyzer test.

Does refusing a breath test protect you?

It may be tempting to believe that refusing to take a breath test provides you with added protection from criminal charges - as it eliminates hard proof that you were driving under the influence. However, even if you refuse a breath test, you can still face charges for failing or refusing to provide a breath sample. The consequences of this charge can be just as severe as an impaired driving charge.

License suspension

Under Alberta law, if you are charged with failing to provide a breath sample, your driver's license is automatically suspended - and will remain suspended for the entire time your charges progress through the legal system. However, a criminal defence lawyer can work to appeal your license suspension - so that you can continue driving until your case concludes.

Moving forward

If you're convicted of refusing a breath test, you could face steep fines and jail time - just as you would if convicted of impaired driving. This is why it's so important to get an experienced criminal lawyer to build a robust defence for your case. Your lawyer will thoroughly review all evidence from your case and look for holes. For example, they can investigate whether the police:

  • Had adequate reason to demand a breath test
  • Violated your constitutional rights
  • Gave you sufficient opportunities to provide a breath sample
  • Explained to you the consequences of not providing a sample
  • Gave you a chance to talk to a lawyer, as appropriate

Facing criminal charges of any kind is serious - and it's not something you should tackle alone. If you find yourself in trouble with the law, it's important to contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible for support.

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