Drunk driver should have been allowed to talk to lawyer before blood test, top court rules

The Supreme Court of Canada is pictured in this Oct. 10, 2013 file photo. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)

The Supreme Court of Canada is pictured in this Oct. 10, 2013 file photo. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)

Giuseppe Valiante, National Bureau

, Last Updated: 2:04 PM ET

OTTAWA — Police cannot interrogate a suspect or even take a breath analysis test from a drunk driver before the suspect has the chance to speak to a lawyer, the Supreme Court ruled Friday.

In a 5-0 decision, the court ruled that the Alberta police's mistakes in a 2008 case were so serious that it threw out the conviction of a man who drove drunk, crashed his truck, and seriously injured three of his passengers.

The ruling will have broad implications for anyone arrested in Canada as police will have to allow a suspect a reasonable opportunity to speak to a lawyer before police can collect evidence.

Police did not give Jamie Taylor the right to speak to counsel either at the scene of his truck crash in 2008, or before he was brought to hospital and had his blood taken.

The blood analysis revealed Taylor had a blood-alcohol concentration over the legal limit. Taylor was charged with three counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm and later convicted.


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