February 29, 2016 4:21 pm
Updated: February 29, 2016 9:21 pm

Alberta drunk driving charges stayed due to improper record keeping

WATCH ABOVE: A problem with a key piece of evidence may lead to the withdrawal of several drunk driving charges in Alberta. It has to do with the paperwork that's done to determine if breathalyzers are working properly. Quinn Ohler reports.


EDMONTON – The Alberta government has stayed several drunk-driving charges because of issues with breathalyzer disclosure, the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service said.

Seventeen charges of .08 have been stayed since Feb. 23 because an Ottawa-based company called Davtech failed to keep proper maintenance records required in court cases, the ACPS said.

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READ MORE: Thousands convicted of impaired driving in Alberta each year: province

Breathalyzers’ operational records are used to prove the devices were working while they were used on an individual.

“In the majority of drunk driving cases, people are charged with both driving over .08 and impaired driving. Impaired driving charges will continue to be prosecuted as long as a reasonable likelihood of conviction remains,” Acting Assistant Deputy Minister Peter Teasdale said.

But, in only two of the 17 stayed cases, impaired charges are still being pursued.

Defence lawyer Tim Foster said it’s very unlikely a person will be convicted of impaired driving if the efficiency of a breathalyzer is in question because the device is only used when an officer is uncertain if a person is impaired.

READ MORE: Alberta drunk driving law that suspends licence until case over appealed again

“When you get to trial, if the officer used a screening device, he’ll have to admit that he didn’t think the person was probably impaired,” Foster explained.

“If he didn’t think the person was probably impaired, then how’s a judge going to find him beyond a reasonable doubt that he was impaired.”

The move doesn’t impact cases involving Edmonton and Calgary police because they handle their own maintenance records internally, as opposed to sending it to a third party.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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