01/18/2013 01:05 EST | Updated 03/20/2013 05:12 EDT

Peter Goldring Suspected DUI: MP Questioned Police Officers' Authority


EDMONTON - An Edmonton MP says he's happy he had his day in court to explain how a quick, cold beer led to his arrest and a charge of refusing a breath test.

Peter Goldring, 68, testified at his trial Friday that he admitted to a constable that he had just downed a draught but didn't understand why he needed to blow into a machine.

He said he told police he wanted a lawyer but the officer refused and told him he was under arrest for refusing a breath sample.

Goldring used to believe it was OK to have a drink or two at the end of the day before driving home but "I may have to rethink it because this is an awful lot to go through for one beer.

"That's probably the most expensive beer I've ever had."

Goldring said it was a quick arrest and he didn't actually say no to the test — he just had concerns and questions for police and wasn't ready.

He told the court that moments later he agreed to the test but then changed his mind because he didn't have confidence police knew what they were doing.

He also said he didn't trust the roadside screening device: "And when I don't know something, I don't do it."

Goldring's take on the incident in December 2011 was vastly different from that of the officers involved.

One officer earlier testified the politician was belligerent, announced he was an MP and pleaded to be let go.

Outside court, Goldring told reporters he would never use his job in Ottawa to influence anyone.

"I just would never do that and quite frankly any person that tries to do that is probably the naive person who thinks that it might work."

Goldring testified he popped into Jox Sports Bar and Grill for a drink after a Christmas party at a nearby Ukrainian centre.

He had sipped one, maybe two, glasses of wine during dinner at the party then spent the rest of the night mingling with guests. His throat was dry from all the talking and he needed some relief.

"I like to have a nice, cold draught beer and I like to have it quick," Goldring said, adding it took five minutes at the most to slug back a glass. He then left the bar and got back in his truck.

As soon as he hit the street, he saw flashing lights.

Goldring testified that he explained his situation to the officer. He said only after the officer told him he was under arrest did he ask to see his driver's licence. The officer then asked what he did for a living.

Goldring said he told the officer he was an MP, only because he was asked. A supervisor was then called.

While they waited for the senior officer to arrive, Goldring said the constable gave him another chance to do the test and he agreed. The officer told him they needed to wait 15 minutes since he had just had a drink.

Goldring said the officer walked to the back of his truck but returned only a few minutes later to demand the test. He was concerned it was too soon and again asked for a lawyer.

He testified he also didn't understand that the roadside test was only used to decide whether he should be brought into the station for another test on a more accurate machine operated by a trained technician.

"That would have been a deal-maker, " said Goldring. "I would have said 'Let's go.'"

Const. Trevor Shelrud has testified Goldring was not immediately placed under arrest because Shelrud was waiting for his supervisor to arrive.

Sgt. Conrad Moschansky told the trial that when he got there, Goldring was sitting in his locked pickup truck. He refused to get out, but rolled the window down slightly to talk with the two officers.

Moschansky told court that Goldring smelled of liquor.

He said the MP had many questions about the process and was growing frustrated.

"What gives you the right to ask me to blow?" he recalled Goldring asking. "How can you just stop me for no reason?"

Moschansky said when he told Goldring he needed an answer on whether he would take the test, Goldring asked how many drinks it would take to blow over .08, the legal driving limit.

"And if I blow over?" asked Goldring. Moschansky told him he would be arrested.

"He said, 'Well, if I blow, it's over anyways,'" Moschansky recalled.

Minutes later, when it was clear Goldring was not going to take a breath test, Moschansky said he reached in through the window, unlocked the truck and pulled out the MP. He was handcuffed and told he was under arrest.

The officers have testified that the handcuffs left Goldring with a small cut on his wrist.

But Goldring testified he lost a big chunk of flesh and his wrist was covered in blood.

He said he ended up going to hospital in the following days for tests to ensure he hadn't contracted any diseases.

Goldring has been an MP for Edmonton East since 1997. He was elected most recently as a Conservative, but stepped aside from the Conservative caucus until the case is resolved and currently sits as an Independent.

The defence has indicated he plans to challenge the case on constitutional grounds.

Arguments have been scheduled for April.

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