R. v. Deruelle

75 C.C.C. (3d) 118



The accused was charged with refusing to comply with the demand that he supply blood samples. A police officer had been informed by telephone by another officer that the accused had been involved in a single-vehicle accident at 3:30 a.m. The officer received this call at 5:20 a.m. The officer also received information that the accused's ability to drive was impaired. The officer attended at the hospital, arriving at 5:26 a.m. only to find that the accused had wandered off. At 5:54 a.m., the accused was located and the blood demand made. The accused refused to comply. The accused was acquitted at trial and an appeal by the Crown to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal was dismissed. On further appeal by the Crown to the Supreme Court of Canada, held, the appeal should be allowed and a conviction entered.



Section 254(3) of the Criminal Code provides that a police officer may make a demand that a person forthwith or as soon as practicable provide samples of breath or blood where the peace officer ''believes on reasonable and probable grounds that a person is committing, or at any time within the preceding two hours has committed'' an offence under s. 253 of the Criminal Code. This provision is to be interpreted as requiring only that the police officer form a belief that an impaired driving offence has been committed by the suspect within the past two hours. A demand made pursuant to that belief must follow forthwith or as soon as practicable, but this may fall outside the two-hour limit. The two-hour limit in s. 254(3) requires prompt police investigation by requiring the police to take the sample as soon as practicable. This specific purpose is to be distinguished from the purpose of the time-limit in s. 258(1)(c) of the Criminal Code which provides that the presumption that the blood-alcohol level at the time of the test was the same as at the time of the offence applies only where the blood sample was taken within two hours of the offence. A sample taken after two hours is still admissible but the Crown loses the advantage of the presumption. In this case, the requisite belief was formed within two hours and the appeal should be allowed.