EDMONTON - Edmonton MP Peter Goldring says he had only one beer the night he was pulled over for suspected drunk driving, and plans to fight the case in court.

The 67-year-old Conservative member of Edmonton East — now sitting as an Independent — said Wednesday he will plead not guilty to one charge of failing to provide a breath sample.

"I was not under the influence of any alcohol or intoxicating substance," Goldring, his wife Lorraine by his side, told reporters outside provincial court.

"I did not provide the breath sample, and the reasons for that will be presented in a court of law.

"I only ask I not be judged until such time as I've been provided the opportunity to present my case."

He made the comments after appearing in provincial court on the charge. His lawyer will be back in court Feb. 15, with a trial expected to go ahead in the fall.

Goldring wouldn't specify what his defence will be, but suggested it will revolve around how police came to stop and interrogate him.

"Although I was not impaired by alcohol, the police officer demanded that I provided a roadside breath sample at the time because I admitted to recently having consumed a very small amount of alcohol — one beer," he said.

"Can you tell us why you were pulled over?" a reporter asked.

"No, I can't because quite frankly that's part and parcel of what will be discussed in a court of law," he said.

"How were you treated by police that night?" asked another.

"I cannot go into that. That's also part and parcel of what will be discussed."

The MP has stepped aside from the Conservative caucus until the case is resolved and will sit as an Independent when the House reconvenes Monday.

Earlier in the month, he said he would sit as a "Civil Libertarian." He said he changed that when he learned it was also the name of a registered political party.

Goldring has been the riding's MP since he was elected under the Reform banner in 1997.

He was pulled over by police just after midnight on Dec. 4 three blocks from where he had been attending a Christmas party at the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex in the north end of the city.

Alberta Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk was also at the function and has said that Goldring gave him an earful on Alberta's new drunk-driving law. The law — which hasn't been proclaimed yet — imposes harsher fines and penalties on not only those who drive over the legal limit, but also those who are close to the legal limit.

Lukaszuk has said he wasn't in a position to judge Goldring's state of sobriety.

Goldring has long challenged roadside breath-screening devices as an affront to the presumption of innocence and a person's right to not self-incriminate.

Shortly after his arrest, he phoned a local radio station to say that while no one should drink and drive, he was standing up for civil liberties.

He hinted Wednesday that stand will be the core of his defence.

"I fully intend to make lemonade out of these lemons," he said.

"I certainly intend to take my time to enunciate that, to help people understand better, and use this as a learning experience."

Prior to Wednesday, Goldring had been lying low after being charged, cancelling one public event and refusing media interview requests.

He said the ordeal has been "terrible" for his family and agreed his reputation has taken a hit, which he says is all the more reason to take the case to court.

Goldring said he hopes his constituents will avoid passing judgment until the facts are heard in court, but also said he may not get a chance to test that faith by running in the next election.

"I've been elected six times. I'm 67 years old. My understanding is we have a majority government that will be going for three, four years," he said.

"You judge yourself whether I really should be running at the age of 71."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asked about the case earlier this month in Edmonton, declined to comment, but reiterated his government considers "drinking and driving to be a serious issue."

If found guilty, Goldring faces a minimum $1,000 fine up to five years in jail, and a driving prohibition.

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