Alberta MP Peter Goldring not guilty of refusing to give breath sample

EDMONTON – An Alberta MP has been found not guilty of failing to provide a breath sample during a police checkstop.

A provincial court judge ruled Peter Goldring didn’t intend to avoid taking a test, but was simply asking questions any person in his situation would have asked.

“The questions that Mr. Goldring was asking do not suggest he was just buying time,” Judge Larry Anderson said in a written decision.

“He was obviously in a dilemma. The questions were basically those that one might expect a detainee would ask a lawyer if that option were available.”

Goldring, 68, admitted he had had wine at a Christmas party and a quick beer before police pulled him over in Edmonton in December 2011.

Officers testified at Goldring’s trial that he was snarky and refused to co-operate when he was pulled over, forcing them to arrest and handcuff him.

Goldring’s lawyer Dino Bottos argued the officers botched the arrest and refused to answer his client’s reasonable questions.

Anderson took pains to emphasize that the police did nothing wrong.

He said the Crown failed to make the case that Goldring intended to break the law.

“I am not satisfied that the Crown has established that Mr. Goldring’s failure to blow was either a conscious decision or a wilful act.”

Goldring, who represented Edmonton East for the Conservatives, has long been a critic of roadside breath checks.

He has been sitting as an Independent since leaving the Tory caucus over the charge.

At the trial, arresting officer Trevor Shelrud described how he stopped Goldring’s vehicle shortly after midnight as it was pulling away from a north-side bar. Goldring admitted to having had a couple of drinks, but Shelrud said he noticed a strong smell of alcohol coming from the vehicle.

Shelrud testified that Goldring, after an initial conversation, refused to roll down his window for the breath test. The officer said Goldring refused to answer questions and sat behind the locked door of his vehicle and stared straight ahead.

Shelrud notified his supervisor. When that officer arrived, the two both tried to get Goldring to take the test, but he still refused, Shelrud said.

The officers decided to arrest Goldring. The supervisor stuck his hand through the partly open window and unlocked the door, so Shelrud could take Goldring’s arm, pull him out and slap him in handcuffs.

Goldring testified that the officer immediately told him he was under arrest. Goldring said he then agreed to a breath test, but was told to wait 15 minutes because he had just had alcohol.

Goldring testified the officer waited only five minutes and was concerned it was too soon to blow into the machine. He said the officer repeatedly refused his request to call a lawyer.

Goldring has represented Edmonton East since 1997. He was first elected under the Reform banner, but was most recently voted in as a Conservative.

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