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Recent amendments to the Criminal Code have broadened the scope of permissible police investigation during otherwise routine traffic stops. Once an accused has been pulled over by the Ottawa police, the inquiry begins. It is extremely common for the client to say I had two beers perhaps believing that the officer will simply waive them on. Not so. Quite to the contrary, admitting to consuming alcohol provides the officer a reasonable suspicion that you have alcohol in your blood, and thus enables the officer to make a roadside screening demand. Upon failing a roadside screening, the officer then has grounds to arrest you for over 80″. I am often asked: what should I say when asked whether I consumed any alcohol? I am often asked: do I need to blow into the device? Lying to the police, even about personal alcohol consumption can lead to charges of obstructing an officer. In a similar vein, refusing to provide a breath sample carries the same penalties as blowing over 80″. Apart from that, a refusal charge is often easier to prove in Court, and obstruct charges are looked upon harshly by the Courts. Thus, the only advisable course of action upon being read a lawful screening demand, is to blow. When asked about alcohol consumption, there are only two options: silence or the truth. Thus, when these questions are asked of me at cocktail parties and social gatherings, I still come to the same conclusion: while we are almost always able to find evidentiary deficiencies in the Crowns case to leverage a successful defence, the only complete defence to the battery of police investigatory tools is to not drink and drive at all.


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Paul Lewandowski Professional Corporation
200 Elgin St,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada,
K2P 1L5