New federal legislation that took effect in December allows police to demand a breath sample from any driver they lawfully stop. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

A 76-year-old Victoria woman is challenging Canada’s mandatory alcohol-screening laws after she was unable to provide a roadside breath sample.

Norma McLeod left a liquor store on Feb. 14 near Hillside Mall when she was stopped by an officer on the sidewalk and asked to provide a breath sample, according to her lawyer, Jerry Steele.

After her ninth failed attempt to provide one, Steele said the officer impounded her car and suspended her licence for three months, costing her $2,800 in fees.

McLeod suffers from lung disease and previously had mouth cancer, which prevented her from blowing into the screening device long enough to register a reading.

On April 18, her lawyers filed a petition trying to clear her name, arguing the mandatory alcohol-screening laws are unconstitutional.

“We’re not attacking the police’s right to ask for people to provide a breath sample,” Steele told Black Press Media. “What we’re doing is we’re attacking the right for the police to do that with no grounds or suspicion whatsoever.”

The laws, which came into effect in December, allow police officers to demand a breath sample “without reasonable suspicion that the driver has alcohol in their body.”

READ MORE: Stricter drunk driving laws to take effect across Canada today

Previously, officers needed a “reasonable suspicion” to ask for a breath sample, which Steele said can mean admission by the driver, or the odor of liquor from the car or the driver’s breath.

“It was so low to begin with. This is just excessive,” he said, referring to the threshold an officer can demand a sample.

Since McLeod’s case has gone public, Steele said several other people have come forward with similar experiences.

No response to the petition has been filed in court.



joti.grewal@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Vedder Rotary trail network in Chilliwack will be closed for five days on the south side

The upgrade will take until Friday so trail users asked to take alternate routes

Chilliwack encouraged to commemorate liberation of Holland

Planning already underway to mark the 75th anniversary of the event

UPDATE: RCMP confirm body of missing Chilliwack senior found

Ethel ‘Grace’ Baranyk had severe dementia

RCMP urge caution for back to school drivers

Police are asking drivers to slow down and watch for pedestrians

UPDATE: Police response on Cheam First Nation a ‘non-event’, RCMP say

More than two dozen RCMP and ERT vehicles were at the First Nation looking for a known fugitive

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Memorial to deceased teen stays in place through Labour Day

Hundreds of tributes have been left at the Walnut Grove skate park

Wife charged in husband’s death in Sechelt

Karin Fischer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Max

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Most Read