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Your Legal Rights When Taking a Breathalyzer in Toronto

Understanding your legal rights when asked to take a breathalyzer test is crucial, regardless of your location within Canada. Whether you’re arrested for impaired driving, or Over 80, the results of a breathalyzer test can have significant implications on your life. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of your rights and responsibilities during such tests, helping you navigate the situation with informed confidence.

What is a Breathalyzer Test?

A breathalyzer is a device used by law enforcement to measure Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in an individual’s breath. It serves as a quick method to assess if a person is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Understanding how this device works and the science behind it can be beneficial, especially if you are faced with such a test.

Legal Basis for Breathalyzer Tests

Under the Canadian Criminal Code, law enforcement officers have the authority to conduct a breathalyzer test if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a person has been operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs within the last three hours. This provision ensures that drivers suspected of DUI can be tested to confirm their sobriety levels legally.

Your Rights During a Breathalyzer Test

Knowing your rights during a breathalyzer test is fundamental. Here are key points every driver should know:

  • Right to Information: Under. s.10(a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the police must advise you of the reasons for arrest. Additionally, the police are required to make a lawful breath demand prior to conducting the test.
  • Right to Counsel: In Canada, you do not have the right to consult a lawyer before submitting to a roadside screening  test. This right generally applies after you have been arrested or detained. However, if taken to a police station for an approved instrument breathalyzer test, you then have the right to speak to a lawyer for advice.
  • Right to Refuse: You cannot be forced to take a breathalyzer test; however, it’s important to understand that refusal can lead to criminal charges that might carry the same penalties as  impaired driving.

Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

Refusing a breathalyzer test is a serious matter. Under Canadian law, refusal can result in a criminal charge similar to or more severe than failing the test. Penalties can include a driver’s license suspension, fines, and even imprisonment, depending on the jurisdiction and your driving history.

Practical Tips If Asked to Take a Breathalyzer Test

If you are stopped and asked to take a breathalyzer test, here are some practical tips:

  • Remain calm and polite; hostile behaviour can complicate your situation.
  • If you have been arrested and taken to the station to provide a breathalyzer test, you can ask to speak to a lawyer first..
  • Follow the instructions provided by the officer if you choose to take the test to avoid additional charges.


Understanding and exercising your legal rights when taking a breathalyzer can significantly impact the outcomes of such encounters. It is advisable to seek legal advice if you find yourself in this situation, as expert guidance is crucial in navigating the complexities of DUI charges.

Need Expert Legal Assistance with Breathalyzer Tests?

If you’ve been asked to take a breathalyzer test or are facing charges related to impaired driving, Karapancev Law is here to help. Our team of experienced criminal defence lawyers specializes in powerful representation and skillful advocacy. We are committed to protecting your rights and achieving the best outcomes.

Contact Karapancev Law for a consultation, and let our expertise guide you through these legal challenges with confidence and strategic action.

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Alexander Karapancev

Alexander Karapancev is a Toronto criminal lawyer practicing throughout the province of Ontario. He regularly serves as lead trial counsel on serious and complex criminal cases. He is the founder of Karapancev Law, a law firm representing clients facing criminal charges, regulatory offences, and professional discipline proceedings.

Mr. Karapancev has acted as counsel in hundreds of cases throughout the province of Ontario, regularly representing clients at trials, applications, bail hearings and preliminary inquiries. He is regularly retained to defend individuals charged with serious allegations of fraud, drug trafficking, DUI offences, domestic assault, and sexual assault. Prior to founding his law firm, Mr. Karapancev practiced criminal defence at a boutique Toronto law firm and also served as a per diem Crown prosecutor.

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