Man given 19 tries to beat breathalyzer

Traffic stop results in charge of refusal to provide a blood-alcohol sample

Failure was not an option for a patient Saanich police officer early Sunday.

A suspected drunk driver was given 19 tries at blowing in the breathalyzer before being cited for refusing to provide a breath sample.

Around 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 9, the man was pulled over near Blenkinsop and Mount Douglas Cross roads. The driver exuded signs of impairment, police say, including slurred speech and the odour of alcohol.

The traffic stop lasted more than 15 minutes, as the driver “kept messing around” while the officer gave him multiple attempts to provide a good sample.

“He was blowing the air into his cheeks, not sealing his lips around the straw, pretending to blow, blocking the straw with his teeth,” said Sgt. Dean Jantzen. “He was warned several times, and then he stated he has issues with his throat and asthma.”

The 24-year-old driver was issued a 90-day driving prohibition and his car, a 2009 Mercedes-Benz C36, which turned out to be his mother’s, was impounded for 30 days.

“Under our provincial legislation and the Criminal Code, you can be charged the same as impaired driving for refusing (to provide a breath sample),” Jantzen said.

The breathalyzers used by Saanich police are equipped with mechanisms that will immediately alert an officer if a steady stream of air is not being provided. “That’s done to make sure you get a good sample and a good reading, and that’s to the benefit of the person being tested.”

Jantzen said an officer will typically allow three or four attempts at the breathalyzer before taking action, “but this particular officer exuded much patience.”