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What is a Breathalyzer?

Region: Ontario Answer # 7706

Law enforcement in Canada uses various testing methods to detect impaired driving. The most common method is the breathalyzer test, which measures a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) through their breath. If the BAC is above the legal limit or zero tolerance limit, the driver can be charged with impaired driving..

If you have been charged with a criminal driving offence such as impaired driving, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.

What is a breathalyzer?

Breathalyzers are handheld devices that measure a person’s BAC by analyzing their breath. The device works by measuring the amount of alcohol in the breath, which is then converted to an estimated BAC.

How do breathalyzers work?

When a person drinks alcohol, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and then released into the breath as the body tries to eliminate it. Breathalyzers work by measuring the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath. The breathalyzer device contains a chamber that has a chemical sensor that reacts with the alcohol in the breath. The device then measures the chemical reaction and converts it into a numerical value that represents the estimated BAC of the individual.

How accurate are breathalyzers?

Breathalyzers are commonly used by law enforcement as a quick and non-invasive way to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol. However, breathalyzers can be influenced by factors such as the type of device used, the calibration of the device, and the driver’s physical condition, such as whether they have consumed any substances that may interfere with the test’s accuracy. For example, mouthwash, breath mints, and cough syrup can contain alcohol and affect the accuracy of the test result.

Additionally, breathalyzers do not measure the presence of other drugs, such as opioids or marijuana, which can impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle.

Mandatory alcohol breath screening tests

Section 320.27(1) of the Criminal Code authorizes police officers to demand that a driver provide a roadside breath sample on an Approved Screening Device (ASD) such as a breathalyzer without reasonable suspicion that the driver has alcohol in their body.  This is only allowed after the person has been lawfully stopped, for example if an officer stops a driver under provincial highway traffic law for the purpose of checking certain things, such as whether the driver has a valid licence and insurance. It could also occur if a car has been stopped at an impaired driving program check point, such as BRAVES (roadblocks, drunk driving and drug evaluation) in Quebec, the Checkstops program in Alberta, and RIDE in Ontario.

Three-hour limit for conducting a breath test

Under section 320.27(1) of the Criminal Code police officers are allowed to demand a breath test for anyone who has operated a motor vehicle within three hours of the test.

Legal implications of failing a breathalyzer test

If a driver fails a breathalyzer test, they may be charged with an impaired driving offense. Penalties can include license suspension, jail time, and other legal consequences. The severity of the penalties can vary depending on the individual’s prior record, the circumstances of the offense, and the jurisdiction in which the offense occurred.

It is important to note that a failed breathalyzer test does not necessarily mean that the individual was impaired while driving. Therefore, it is important for individuals who have been charged with an impaired driving offense to seek legal advice and explore their options for defending against the charges.

Can you refuse to take a breathalyzer test?

You do not have a legal right to refuse a breath test, and you do not have a legal right to speak with your lawyer prior to the test. If you do refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you can be charged with failing to comply with an officer’s demand. This can also result in criminal charges that carry the same, or greater penalties as driving while impaired. However, if you have a reasonable excuse, such as an injury or illness that prevents you from being able to blow enough air into the breathalyzer screening machine, you may have a valid excuse for refusing.

Get help

To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a driving offence, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our preferred criminal defence expert, Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers for a free consultation at 416-938-5858 .


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