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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey seniors call Seniors’ Centre Without Walls, a new-to-B.C. program

‘Crazy coincidence’ saw program connect soon after COVID-19 pandemic hit

Education minister announces new South Surrey elementary school

Additions at two elementary schools also announced

White Rock reopens more waterfront parking

East Beach availability boosted for residents, public

Police on scene at a Surrey duplex after ‘suspicious’ death of woman

IHIT says the woman was transported from the home to hospital, where she died

COVID-19: Daily update on pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

JUNE 4: Seniors to receive promised emergency funding in July:

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Stray dog with duct tape around muzzle spotted in Abbotsford

Pooch has been spotted over two days, but has escaped capture so far

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

No need to get out of your car at food truck festival in Abbotsford and Langley

Annual event takes drive-thru approach during COVID-19 pandemic

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read