SafeRoads v. F.T.

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SafeRoads v. F.T.

(SafeRoads Alberta - N.A.P.). In 2020 the Alberta Government enacted the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act. The primary objective of this legislation was to bring into law an administrative model for penalizing drinking and driving. Unlike criminal law, where the accused has a full compliment of protections that require strict adherence to a Constitutional legal standard, SafeRoads is an administrative response that essentially neuters Charter protected interests and the rules of evidence in favour of a quick sanction model designed almost entirely in favour of the State. Police are not even required to provide the best evidence in support of the case (i.e., video). Notwithstanding the extreme imbalance in favour of the Director of SafeRoads, there are ways to defend a Notice of Administrative Penalty (N.A.P.). 

In the case of FT, the roadside sanction recipient ("the recipient" was involved in a single motor vehicle accident on an unfamiliar stretch of road in Cochrane, Alberta. The investigating officer properly made a mandatory alcohol screening demand (MAS).  FT provided a sample.  FT deposed to consuming mouthwash just prior to the test. There was a bottle of mouthwash in FT's vehicle. That product had alcohol in it. Since the fail result was obtained with 15 minutes of rinsing with mouthwash, an argument was made the this fail result was a tainted false positive. 

Roadside sanctions law permits a roadside appeal. A roadside appeal is essentially an opportunity to blow a second test on a different device. FT requested a second test.

At the time of this investigation, it was extremely cold outside. FT was wearing very light clothing and was by all accounts freezing to death. FT could not provide the second breath sample because of the cold.. During a number of attempts by FT, the breath testing equipment displayed "error codes" for which the officer provided no explanation. Error codes can occur if the device is cold. 

After conducting a thorough review of the evidence, the adjudicator concluded that FT had requested a second sample and was to afforded a reasonable opportunity to provide that sample. The adjudicator accepted FT's explanation that on the balance of probabilities, the cold was impacting the attempts blow and that the device could also have been influenced by the cold. FT's roadside sanctions were cancelled

Roadside sanctions are not criminal law penalties. However, even though a roadside sanction is not a criminal offence, the consequences of a Notice of Administrative Penalty are often greater than the punishment itself. For instance, it is not unusual for somebody to lose their job or their ability to care for their family. Just because a NAP is not criminal does not mean that the consequences are not severe. Contact a qualified roadside sanctions lawyer in Alberta for help.