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Twenty Years of Breath Testing in The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (From International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety Seventh - Proceedings, P 321-326, 1979, Ian R Johnston, ed. - See NCJ-73856)

NCJ Number
J Hoday
Date Published
6 pages
A history of breath testing for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) from the early 1950's to the mid-1970's traces the program's expansion in the 1960's and describes comprehensive Federal breath test legislation introduced in 1969.
Before the introduction of reliable equipment for breath testing for alcohol in Canada during the latter 1950's, the judicial use of chemical tests for intoxication from blood and urine samples was plagued by a lack of scientific research and by the requirement that the subject had to consent to the use of his/her blood or urine for court purposes. The introduction of the Breathalyzer for breath testing into the Province of Saskatchewan, coupled with the 'implied consent' law providing penalties for refusal to submit to a breath test, led the way for expansion of breath testing programs to other provinces. Program expansion was marked by the introduction of an intensive 10-day RCMP training course which produced competent Breathalyzer operators. During the first 15 years of breath testing in Canada, these operators were required to appear in court for every contested case. The preparation of a training manual and the formation of a Special Committee on Breath Testing insured unified development of breath testing in the provinces. The introduction of a mandatory Federal breath testing law in 1969 and the introduction in 1976 of similar proposed Federal legislation for the use of Roadside Screening Devices have provided for criminal penalties for the refusal by a suspect to submit to a breath test upon demand by a police officer. Also, breathalyzer operators may use a 'Certificate of Analysis' to report the results of breath tests to the courts. In conclusion, public acceptance of evidential-type breath testing equipment should help implement an extensive Roadside Screening Device Program and should establish a remote sampling program (i.e., providing an accused person with a sample of his own breath for independent analysis). Eight references are provided.