The Right To Counsel For Drunk Driver Suspects (In Canada)

In R. v. Landry, 2020 NBCA 72, the police stopped a motor vehicle the accused was driving. They noticed a smell of alcohol and made an approved screening device demand.  A ‘fail” was registered.   The accused was arrested and advised of his right to contact counsel. The accused sought to use his cellular telephone to immediately call a lawyer.  The police declined to allow him to do so until he was taken to the police station. 

The New Brunswick Court of Appeal concluded that a breach of section 10(b) of the Charter occurred (at paragraph 19):

…the case law could not be clearer on the issue of when an accused is entitled to avail himself or herself of his or her right to counsel. The right applies immediately following arrest and reading of constitutional rights, insofar as the circumstances of the case allow. No evidence may be obtained before the right is exercised. The Supreme Court of Canada clearly stated in R. v. Manninen, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 1233, [1987] S.C.J. No. 41 (QL), that the right requires the police officer to allow the accused to use any available telephone. In this case, Mr. Landry was entitled to use his cell phone to try to contact his lawyer, but the police officer refused to let him do so. 

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