‘I look forward to the opportunity to present my side of the story’

Peter Goldring, the MP for Edmonton East, explains what happened the night he was charged by police with failing to provide a breath sample and says he’ll explain why later.

“Although I was not impaired by alcohol, the police officer demanded I provide a roadside breath sample at the time because I admitted to having recently consumed a very small amount of alcohol,” Goldring told media at Edmonton’s courthouse.  ”One beer. The police had the opportunity to charge me with impaired. They did not. There’s no suggestion of impairment here.”

He said he would provide the reason for his refusal to take a breathalyzer only when his case comes to court.

Mr. Goldring withdrew from the Conservative caucus in December and declared himself a Civil Libertarian MP in January, but he is now simply an independent MP (possibly to avoid confusion with the actual Libertarian Party). He has previously expressed civil liberties concerns with random sampling of drivers.




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‘I look forward to the opportunity to present my side of the story’

  1. While he opposes random sampling of drivers, he supports (or at the very least, doesn’t oppose) sampling of drivers that are suspected of drinking and driving. Wouldn’t this case fall under the latter category? The police (rightfully) suspected that he’d been drinking, and therefore requested a test?

    From his website: There is already random screening for impaired drivers. The courts have upheld this
    method of screening as being constitutional, as a breath sample is not required
    unless a police officer has reason to suspect the driver has been drinking.

    And didn’t Pablo Rodriguez refuse a breathalyzer in an apparent drinking-and-driving incident a while back? I tried to dig up the event in Wherry’s blog archive, but only found a one-sentence passing mention in a blog posting. I thought the Rodriguez case was more interesting, and merited more blogging than this Goldring incident.

  2. I’d like to see how he would deal with Ontario’s laws

  3. However the court proceeding ultimately plays out, Goldring is done.  Few, if any, will shed tears – he’s had as undistinguished a 15 year MP career as it’s possible to have.  He’ll serve out his term as an independent, take his fat pension and go back to being a slum landlord, likely from the Turks and Caicos or whatever was the Caribbean island he pushed to have added as the eleventh province a few years ago.

    As for his legal strategy, he seems to be pursuing a defense whereby he’ll be arguing that police have the right to set up random check stops (which I believe is what caught him), but don’t have the right to actually demand someone thus pulled over provide a breath sample, even after same person admits to police they’d been drinking (one beer, according to Goldring).  It will be his most noteworthy contribution to public life if he pulls it off.

  4. So, my best guess would be that he believes that police should only be allowed to compel a breath sample if there are reasonable grounds to believe that there is impairment, as opposed to just “drinking”.  In other words, that knowing that he has admitted to drinking a beer is insufficient cause to compel a breath sample if the officers have no other reason to expect impairment.

    It’s an interesting point, but I’m not sure the courts would accept the distinction.  It seems to me that the logic “I suspected he might be impaired because I knew he’d had at least one drink” might itself be considered to be sufficient cause to “reasonably” suspect possible impairment.

    • I believe impairment is deemed to exist if blood alcohol levels exceed the legal limits.  Otherwise, the courts would be even more clogged than they are now with cases of drivers claiming (essentially) they were not actually “impaired” notwithstanding having two or three or ten times the legal limit.  This deemed impairment based on legal limit is why refusal to blow is essentially an absolute liability offense, i.e. the refusal to blow itself is sufficient evidence to convict, without regard for “mens rea”, etc.

      It is, however, the case that police can’t simply pull a driver over randomly, if there are no bases for the police to suspect an offense.  If Goldring was pulled over randomly, he might have a legal argument that, in the absence of any suspicion of impairment, he has a Charter privacy right against self incrimination as a defense.  However, (again) I believe he wasn’t randomly pulled over, but was caught by a check stop and his admission to the police he had consumed alcohol seems to me to be game set and match, unless he can convince the Court to recognize some kind of “presumption of honesty” (i.e. the police should have accepted his assertion he’d only had one beer) should apply in such cases.  We’ll call it the “Goldring Defense” if he pulls it off and he’ll have his legacy.  

  5. His side of the story being that you can be a lawmaker, part of the process for making the laws that everyone must obey AND some sort of misguided civil disobedience activist breaking them?

    And, if he feels so strongly what did he do to try and get the law changed by legal means first?

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