Suspect drunk driver acquitted due to delay in taking breath test

Suspect drunk driver acquitted due to delay in taking breath test

A Calgary man has been acquitted of driving over the legal blood-alcohol limit because the arresting officer opted to first write out his notes for 20 minutes before the suspect was given a breathalyzer test.

Provincial court Judge Jim Ogle said in a written decision released this week that city Const. Robin Peoples should have taken [M.J.R.] from his cruiser to the nearby checkstop bus, a 20-second walk away, where he could just as easily have written his notes.

By the time the first breath sample was taken, it was 35 minutes after the initial stop — a delay defence lawyer Ian McKay argued during a voir dire (trial within a trial) was unreasonable under the circumstances. A second sample was taken 21 minutes later.

“While reasonable and necessary delays are allowed, and there is, admittedly, a two-hour window within which to take the samples, the evidence must establish . . . that the tests were taken as soon as practicable,” wrote Ogle.

Court heard Peoples pulled [M.J.R.]’s pickup truck over on Macleod Trail on June 27, 2006. Ross told the officer he had had “a few beers.”

Ross then said he wanted to speak to a lawyer, and Peoples said he would comply with the request.

It was then, said the judge, that the officer’s actions went off the rails.

Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results and all litigation outcomes will vary according to the facts and circumstances of each individual case.