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

One large brood

On Sunday, May 19, a lone mallard showed up with 22 ducklings… Continue reading

McHappy Day raises $7,000 in the Comox Valley

This is the fourth year funds have gone to the Comox Valley Child Development Association

Millard Creek public nature walk Sunday

Local biologist guides public through popular Courtenay trail

A cappella group Swing Set to play Comox

Quartet to perform live for first time in two years

27th Annual Courtenay and District Fish & Game Outdoor Show coming in June

June is just around the corner and so is the 27th Annual… Continue reading

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

So, do you know ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’?

Ontario man searching for fellow he travelled with in Europe 50 years ago

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

B.C. sends 267 firefighters to help battle Alberta wildfires

Out of control fires have forced evacuations in the province

LETTER: Fletcher ‘blurs reality’ on B.C. union public construction

Bridge, highway projects awarded to companies, not unions

Most Read