Refusing breath sample after fatal crash as serious as impaired driving causing death: SCC

Refusing to provide a breath sample after a fatal crash is just as grave a crime as impaired driving causing death, the Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed.

Today’s 6-1 ruling stems from a tragic incident in May 2013, when Richard Suter hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes of his SUV, plowing in to an Edmonton restaurant patio and killing a two-year-old boy.

Writing for the majority, Justice Michael Moldaver upheld a 2008 law that makes refusing to provide police with a breath sample when death is involved, just as serious and punishable an offence as impaired driving causing death.

But he noted that Suter’s case was unique.

“The fact that Mr. Suter was not impaired at the time of the accident; that he refused to provide the police with a breath sample because of ill-informed and incorrect legal advice; and that he was attacked by vigilantes and had his thumb cut off with pruning shears, are all factors that must be taken into account in creating an appropriate sentence,” the judgment reads.

More to come.

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