Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

You may have heard differently, but Ontarians have never been able to refuse a breathalyzer without facing a consequence of one form or another.

What Happens When You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

The reasons for confusion around whether or not you can refuse to comply with a breath sample request includes the laws as they were up until late last year. Before new laws came into effect last December, police needed to have reasonable suspicion of impaired driving before demanding a roadside breath test.

Today, police no longer need to have reasonable suspicion to demand an on-the-spot roadside breath test. And refusing a breathalyzer can result in criminal charges similar to those of being convicted of a DUI charge.

What Are the Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer?

The government was forced to eliminate the need for reasonable suspicion because studies showed that up to 50% of impaired drivers were not being detected by police officers at roadside stops.

In Ireland, authorities credit mandatory roadside breathalyzer tests with a 40% reduction in the number of road deaths due to impaired driving.

Here are just some of the minimum penalties a driver can face for a first-time conviction for refusing a breathalyzer. You can also face these penalties for refusing to give a breath sample at a police station, mobile police station and/or hospital.

  1. Drivers license suspension for one year.
  2. Pay a fine of $1,000 or more
  3. Mandatory participation in a Provincial counselling program at your own expense
  4. Installation of an ignition interlock system, also at your own expense, for one year

If you found this post helpful, check out our recent article about the law for drinking and boating.

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