Drinking and Driving
Print this article
Sobriety tests and police questioning
At the roadside
Upon pulling you over, police may demand you
perform physical coordination tests at the roadside. Before making the demand,
police do not have to tell you that you have a right to speak
to a lawyer. You must perform the tests. Non-compliance carries the same penalties as drinking and driving. Police can use the test results only to determine if there are grounds
to arrest you for impaired driving and for a demand either for a breath sample or for the performance at a police station of additional tests to determine if you are impaired by a drug.
The Crown cannot use the results of the physcial tests to establish impairment at your
Upon pulling you over and before arresting you,
police can also ask you questions at the roadside about how much
you have had to drink. Police can ask these questions before telling
you about your right to a lawyer. You do not have to answer such
questions. But if you do, police can use your responses to determine
if you have alcohol in your body. If police believe that you do,
they may require you to provide a breath sample into a roadside
screening device. However, the Crown cannot use your responses to
prove your guilt.
At the station
The police officer who operates the breath testing
device may ask you to perform physical coordination tests such as walking
a straight line ("heel-to-toe test") and touching your
finger to your nose. Do not participate in such tests. Some are
difficult to perform sober. (Note: Such tests are not to be confused with mandatory tests to determine if you are impaired by a drug.) You may be nervous and underestimate
your impairment. You are not required by law to do the tests.
In addition, the police officer who operates the breath device
will ask you questions. Do not answer. Many of the questions (e.g.,
were you driving a motor vehicle tonight, what were you drinking,
how much and when) are designed to elicit responses for use against
you at trial.
Disclaimer: The material on this site is not intended as legal advice. It merely conveys general information on legal issues commonly encountered by persons facing criminal charges in Canada. If you are charged with an offence, you should contact a criminal lawyer.