Bagpiper avoids police breath-test claiming ‘breathing technique’ issue

Police Roadside check

The following story comes from the New Zealand Herald. You must hand it to the bands’ “musical director” (do they mean PM?) for his successful ingenuity.

A 65-year-old Hastings man has convinced a judge that years of playing the bagpipes rendered him incapable of completing a roadside breath test.

City of Hastings Pipe Band musical director William Norris Menzies appeared in Hastings District Court on Wednesday and admitted refusing to permit a blood specimen after being pulled over for speeding when driving on Havelock Rd on December 7.

But the judge reduced the six months’ driving licence disqualification – usually

William Menzies, bagpiper.

mandatory – to only one month after accepting that Menzies’ breathing technique as a bagpiper was to blame for him being unable to breath into the police breathalyzer.

The court heard Menzies was unable to supply enough breath to complete a roadside screening test and an evidential breath test at the police station. He also later refused to supply a blood sample. His lawyer, Bill Calver, made an application for special circumstances and asked the court not to impose the mandatory six-month disqualification period. He argued his client had an existing medical condition and deeply regretted not providing a blood sample as he had consumed only two drinks and was now confident he would not have failed the test.

Police prosecutor Tanya Peterson opposed the application and claimed the consequences of refusing a test were fully explained to Menzies.

“It was his choice to refuse,” Peterson said.

Menzies said outside the court: “Essentially a bagpiper is taught to blow with pressure, yet a controlled pressure.

“From what I understand, breathalyzers don’t ask for this; they need a greater volume of air.” He tried to blow into it but “it wasn’t working for me”.

About Mike Chisholm

Official Piper: Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tours. Pitt River Resort. Exec. Dir. ScotFestBC: The British Columbia Highland Games, Director, BC Pipers' Assn. Former journalist, Nova Scotian, Dad.
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