R. v. Bernshaw (N.), (1995) 53 B.C.A.C. 1 (SCC)

JudgeLamer, C.J.C., La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court of Canada
Case DateJanuary 27, 1995
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1995), 53 B.C.A.C. 1 (SCC)

R. v. Bernshaw (N.) (1995), 53 B.C.A.C. 1 (SCC);

    87 W.A.C. 1

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

....................

Her Majesty The Queen (appellant) v. Nathen Bernshaw (respondent)

(23748)

Indexed As: R. v. Bernshaw (N.)

Supreme Court of Canada

Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major, JJ.

January 27, 1995.

Summary:

The accused was convicted of driving a motor vehicle while having an excessive blood-alcohol content. The accused ap­pealed, submitting that the police officer lacked reasonable and probable grounds to make a breathalyzer demand based on the "fail" result of a screening test, where the officer knew or ought to have known that a "fail" reading might have been inaccurate due to the presence of alcohol in the ac­cused's mouth. The officer failed to ascertain whether the accused had consumed alcohol with­in the prior 15 minutes and failed to wait 15 minutes to ensure any alcohol that might be in the accused's mouth had dissi­pated.

The British Columbia Supreme Court dismissed the appeal. The accused appealed.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal, in a judgment reported 28 B.C.A.C. 247; 47 W.A.C. 247, set aside the conviction and substituted an acquittal. The court stated that given the officer's knowledge that the screening test was unreliable if the accused consumed alcohol, burped, regurgitated, etc., within the 15 minute period prior to the sample, the officer could not have believed on reasonable and probable grounds that the accused had committed an offence under s. 253 of the Criminal Code so as to justify a breathalyzer demand. The Crown appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada allowed the appeal and restored the conviction and sen­tence. The court held that absent evidence of circumstances which would render the results of the screening test unreliable, the officer had reasonable and probable grounds, based on the "fail" reading, to make a breathalyzer demand.

Criminal Law - Topic 1372

Motor vehicles - Impaired driving - Breathalyzer demand - Reasonable and probable grounds - A police officer relied on an accused's screening device "fail" as reasonable and probable grounds to make a breathalyzer demand - Expert evidence established that screening devices were unreliable where an accused drank alcohol, burped or regurgitated within 20 minutes of the test - The officer knew this - There was no evidence that the accused con­sumed alcohol within that period - The accused did not volunteer that he did, nor did the officer ask - The Supreme Court of Canada held that a "fail" reading, in and of itself, was not sufficient to constitute reasonable and probable grounds for a demand if the officer was aware of cir­cumstances that made the test result unre­liable - Here, there was no evidence of unreliability, only speculation - The officer had no duty to inquire into recent consumption and no duty to wait 15 or 20 minutes absent evidence of circumstances making the test unreliable - Accordingly, the officer was entitled to rely on the "fail" result to constitute reasonable and probable grounds for the demand - See paragraphs 4 to 16, 35 to 42.

Criminal Law - Topic 1385

Motor vehicles - Impaired driving - Screening test - General - [See Criminal Law - Topic 1372 ].

Criminal Law - Topic 1386.2

Motor vehicles - Impaired driving - Screening test - Time and place for - Section 254(2) of the Criminal Code pro­vided that a person given an approved screening device demand was to "forth­with" provide a breath sample - If "forth­with" meant immediately, a problem arose if an officer delayed the test for 15 minutes to ensure the accuracy of the test (i.e., where the officer knew the accused consumed alcohol, burped or regurgitated within 15 minutes of the test, rendering the results unreliable due to the presence of undissipated mouth alcohol) - The Supreme Court of Canada held that "forth­with" did not mean immediately - The court stated that "where the officer is told that the detainee has consumed liquor within the last 15 minutes, or where other reasons exist for the officer to believe that alcohol was recently present in the mouth of the suspect due to regurgitation, the officer may wait an appropriate period of time prior to administering the screening device. However, the police are not required to ascertain such information by posing the question to the suspect prior to administering the screening device test". - See paragraphs 17 to 37.

Words and Phrases

Forthwith - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the meaning of "forth­with", as found in s. 254(2) of the Crimi­nal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 - See paragraphs 17 to 31.

Cases Noticed:

R. v. Callaghan, [1974] 3 W.W.R. 70 (Sask. Dist. Ct.), refd to. [para. 4].

R. v. Belnavis, [1993] O.J. No. 637 (Gen. Div.), refd to. [para. 4].

R. v. Richard (1993), 12 O.R.(3d) 260 (Prov. Ct.), refd to. [para. 4].

R. v. Storrey, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 241; 105 N.R. 81; 37 O.A.C. 161; 75 C.R.(3d) 1; 53 C.C.C.(3d) 316, refd to. [para. 4].

R. v. Thomsen, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 640; 84 N.R. 347; 27 O.A.C. 85; 63 C.R.(3d) 1; 40 C.C.C.(3d) 411; 4 M.V.R.(2d) 185; 32 C.R.R. 257, refd to. [para. 18].

R. v. Grant, [1991] 3 S.C.R. 139; 130 N.R. 250; 93 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 181; 292 A.P.R. 181, refd to. [para. 21].

R. v. Seo (1986), 13 O.A.C. 359; 54 O.R.(2d) 293 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 23].

R. v. Wonnacott (1990), 23 M.V.R.(2d) 248 (Ont. Dist. Ct.), affd. (1991), 5 O.R.(3d) 300 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 24].

R. v. Kaczmarek (1994), 16 O.R.(3d) 510 (Gen. Div.), refd to. [para. 25].

R. v. Pierman (1994), 19 O.R.(3d) 704 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 27].

R. v. Jackson (S.J.) (1993), 147 A.R. 173 (Q.B.), refd to. [para. 39].

R. v. Linttell (1991), 117 A.R. 27; 64 C.C.C.(3d) 507 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 41].

R. v. Gartrell (1992), 72 C.C.C.(3d) 51 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 55].

R. v. Rilling, [1976] 2 S.C.R. 183; 5 N.R. 327, refd to. [para. 57].

R. v. Deruelle, [1992] 2 S.C.R. 663; 139 N.R. 56; 114 N.S.R.(2d) 1; 313 A.P.R. 1, refd to. [para. 69].

R. v. Schmautz, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 398; 106 N.R. 81; 53 C.C.C.(3d) 556; 75 C.R.(3d) 129; 45 C.R.R. 245; 44 B.C.L.R.(2d) 273, refd to. [para. 69].

Severn v. R. (1878), 2 S.C.R. 70, refd to. [para. 72].

McKay v. R., [1965] S.C.R. 798, refd to. [para. 72].

Galaske v. O'Donnell et al., [1994] 1 S.C.R. 670; 166 N.R. 5; 43 B.C.A.C. 37; 69 W.A.C. 37, refd to. [para. 76].

R. v. McNulty (1991), 35 M.V.R.(2d) 27 (Ont. C.A.), refd to. [para. 85].

R. v. Dwernychuk (M.K.) (1992), 135 A.R. 31; 77 C.C.C.(3d) 385 (C.A.), leave to appeal refused, [1993] 2 S.C.R. vii; 151 N.R. 400; 141 A.R. 317, refd to. [para. 85].

R. v. Marshall (1989), 91 N.S.R.(2d) 211; 233 A.P.R. 211 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 85].

R. v. Langdon (1992), 74 C.C.C.(3d) 570 (Nfld. C.A.), refd to. [para. 85].

R. v. Leneal (1990), 68 Man.R.(2d) 127 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 85].

Hills v. Canada (Attorney General), [1988] 1 S.C.R. 513; 84 N.R. 86; 48 D.L.R.(4th) 193; 88 C.L.L.C. 14,011, refd to. [para. 90].

Davidson v. Slaight Communications Inc., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1038; 93 N.R. 183; 59 D.L.R.(4th) 416; 26 C.C.E.L. 85; 89 C.L.L.C. 14,031; 40 C.R.R. 100, refd to. [para. 90].

Southam Inc. v. Hunter, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 145; 55 N.R. 241; 55 A.R. 291; 9 C.R.R. 355; 14 C.C.C.(3d) 97; 41 C.R.(3d) 97; [1984] 6 W.W.R. 577; 33 Alta. L.R.(2d) 193; 27 B.L.R. 297; 84 D.T.C. 6467; 2 C.P.R.(3d) 1; 11 D.L.R.(4th) 641, refd to. [para. 97].

Baron v. Minister of National Revenue et al., [1993] 1 S.C.R. 416; 146 N.R. 270, refd to. [para. 97].

R. v. Debot, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1140; 102 N.R. 161; 37 O.A.C. 1; 52 C.C.C.(3d) 193; 73 C.R.(3d) 129; 45 C.R.R. 49, refd to. [para. 97].

R. v. McKinlay Transport Ltd. and C.T. Transport Inc., [1990] 1 S.C.R. 627; 106 N.R. 385; 39 O.A.C. 385, refd to. [para. 98].

R. v. Simmons, [1988] 2 S.C.R. 495; 89 N.R. 1; 30 O.A.C. 241; 66 C.R.(3d) 297; 45 C.C.C.(3d) 296; 38 C.R.R. 252; 18 C.E.R. 227; 55 D.L.R.(4th) 673; 67 O.R.(2d) 63n, refd to. [para. 98].

R. v. Wise, [1992] 1 S.C.R. 527; 133 N.R. 161; 51 O.A.C. 351, refd to. [para. 99].

R. v. Hundal (S.), [1993] 1 S.C.R. 867; 149 N.R. 189; 22 B.C.A.C. 241; 38 W.A.C. 241, refd to. [para. 99].

R. v. Whyte, [1988] 2 S.C.R. 3; 86 N.R. 328; 64 C.R.(3d) 123; 6 M.V.R.(2d) 138; [1988] 5 W.W.R. 26; 42 C.C.C.(3d) 97; 29 B.C.L.R.(2d) 273; 51 D.L.R.(4th) 481; 35 C.R.R. 1, refd to. [para. 99].

R. v. Hufsky, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 621; 84 N.R. 365; 27 O.A.C. 103; 40 C.C.C.(3d) 398; 63 C.R.(3d) 14; 4 M.V.R.(2d) 170; 32 C.R.R. 193, refd to. [para. 99].

R. v. Ladouceur, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1257; 108 N.R. 171; 40 O.A.C. 1; 77 C.R.(3d) 110; 56 C.C.C.(3d) 22; 21 M.V.R.(2d) 165, refd to. [para. 99].

R. v. Dedman, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 2; 60 N.R. 34; 11 O.A.C. 241; 46 C.R.(3d) 193; 20 C.C.C.(3d) 97; 34 M.V.R. 1, refd to. [para. 99].

R. v. Mellenthin, [1992] 3 S.C.R. 615; 144 N.R. 50; 135 A.R. 1; 33 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 100].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 1 [para. 19]; sect. 8 [para. 7]; sect. 10(b) [para. 19].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, sect. 253 [paras. 4, 50]; sect. 254(1) [para. 50]; sect. 254(2), sect. 254(3)(a) [paras. 2, 50].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Impaired Driving -- Canada, 1991 (1992), 12:17 Juristat 1, p. 2 [para. 59].

Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Impaired Driving -- Canada, 1992 (1994), 14:5 Juristat 1, generally [para. 60].

Statistics Canada, Health Statistics Divi­sion, Causes Of Death 1992, pp. 246 to 250 [para. 60].

Statistics Canada, Housing, Family and Social Statistics Division, Accidents in Canada (1991), pp. 61 to 64 [para. 60].

Counsel:

William F. Ehrcke, for the appellant;

Robert A. Higinbotham, for the respon­dent.

Solicitors of Record:

The Ministry of the Attorney General, Vancouver, British Columbia, for the appellant;

Green, Higinbotham & Claus, Victoria, British Columbia, for the respondent.

This appeal was heard on October 7, 1994, before Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On January 27, 1995, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages and the following opinions were filed:

Sopinka, J. (La Forest, McLachlin and Major, JJ., concurring) - see para­graphs 1 to 43;

Cory, J. (Lamer, C.J.C., and Iacobucci, J., concurring) - see paragraphs 44 to 87;

L'Heureux-Dubé, J. - see paragraphs 88 to 111;

Gonthier, J. - see paragraph 112.

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639 cases
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    • Canada
    • Provincial Court of Alberta (Canada)
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    ... (1988), 84 N.R. 365 ; 27 O.A.C. 103 ; 40 C.C.C.(3d) 398 (S.C.C.), consd. [para. 14]. R. v. Bernshaw (N.) (1995), 176 N.R. 81 ; 53 B.C.A.C. 1; 87 W.A.C. 1 ; 95 C.C.C.(3d) 193 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. R. v. Hawkins (J.G.), [1993] 2 S.C.R. 157 ; 151 N.R. 176 ; 107 Nfld. & P.E.I......
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    ...(K.) et al. (2000), 271 A.R. 303; 234 W.A.C. 303 (C.A.), refd to. [paras. 6, 34]. R. v. Bernshaw (N.), [1995] 1 S.C.R. 254; 176 N.R. 81; 53 B.C.A.C. 1; 87 W.A.C. 1; 35 C.R.(4th) 201; 95 C.C.C.(3d) 193; [1995] 3 W.W.R. 457; 8 M.V.R.(3d) 75, refd to. [para. Canadian Broadcasting Corp. v. New ......
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