Home  |  FAQ  |  Terms  |  About  |  Learn  |  Contact    

Toronto lawyers dedicated to helping people charged with impaired driving

DUI breath sample refusal charges in Canada

Many people are surprised to learn that it is a criminal offence to refuse to provide a breath sample to the police. When a driver is suspected of driving while intoxicated, the police will demand that he provide a sample of breath. If the suspect refuses this demand they will be charged with refusal.

Refusal carries the same penalties as a standard DUI, which include a one year Canada wide driving prohibition, a fine, and a criminal record. Refusing to give a breath sample is thus a bad idea because it guarantees you will be charged and limits your ability to defend your case in court.

You cannot challenge the accuracy of the breathalyser in refusal cases

Unlike a regular over 80 DUI case, a refusal case has no breath reading. This means the accused’s lawyer is unable to challenge the accuracy of the readings. While past defences such as the Carter defence have been reduced by legislation, there remains room to present arguments to the court that the reading is inaccurate in certain circumstances.

With no BAC reading there is less room for prosecutorial discretion

In cases where the accused’s reading is close to the legal limit (BAC .09 or BAC .1), it is often possible for a defence lawyer to convince the Crown to agree to a provincial careless driving charge and drop the DUI. This benefits the accused tremendously because they avoid a criminal record and may be able to regain driving privileges fast.

The reason Crowns are willing to do this is because if the reading is close it means the defence has a greater chance of demonstrating “reasonable doubt” to the judge that the BAC reading is accurate. There is also an acceptance that being close to the legal limit is a mitigating factor and, depending on the accused’s person circumstances and the facts of the case, the Crown may agree to simply give the accused a break.

In refusal cases, there is no BAC level. The accused is not being charged with drunk driving but simply refusing the demand for a breath sample. Since it is unknown how drunk (or not drunk) the accused was at the time of the charge Crowns often are reluctant to agree to a lesser offence.

This being said, the disclosure will often detail the police’s opinion of accused’s level of intoxication and sometimes will note the accused did not appear to be significantly impaired. This can be a benefit to the accused’s lawyer who is attempting to have the charges reduced.

Public Awareness of Refusal Charges

We often here stories of people who drink one or two beer and get charged with refusal because they were unaware of the seriousness of refusing the breath sample. While they were likely below the legal limit anyway they wind up facing the consequences of a full DUI simply because they are uninformed of the law.

For more information see our article on failure or refusal to provide a breath sample charges under Criminal Code s. 320.14(1)(a).

Call us today.

You don't have to jeopardize your future or waste thousands of dollars on excessive legal fees. We provide effective and affordable lawyer representation for those charged with impaired driving offences throughout Ontario.

Have a skilled criminal lawyer who focuses on impaired driving related charges protect you and your future from the stigma and consequences of a criminal record.

    call us: 647-228-5969


  call us: 647-228-5969


Your case will be defended by a fully licensed Practicing Lawyer of the Law Society of Ontario. For more information about our lawyer, click here.

We provide our clients with:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • US travel advice and information
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • Clear goals of getting charges dropped and bail conditions varied without a trial
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Experienced, focused counsel

* Please note:

If you are not a paying client, we cannot answer questions and provide assistance with U.S. travel, immigration, employment background checks, and avoiding a criminal record. This includes those who have already retained other counsel and those whose cases have already been completed.

Are you a lawyer? If you are defending an impaired driving related case and are looking for expert advice regarding possible defences, case strategies, and information release management call us at: 647-228-5969.

Please note: We do not accept legal aid certificate cases. All clients are handled on a private retainer only.


Prefer to reach us via email?
Fill out the below form:

Name (required):


Email (required):



Case Details (required):

  Law and Consequences

  We provide:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • A clear goal of getting the charges dropped without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Timely resolutions
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel