When Canada first announced changes to drinking and driving laws here, legal experts quickly stated concerns that the laws could be unconstitutional. Now those concerns have become a reality as a 76-year-old launches an official challenge of Canada's impaired driving laws. This comes after she says she was randomly targeted and charged by police in BC.
The woman behind the challenge is Norma McLeod, a 76-year-old from Victoria, BC. In her official Charter challenge, she says that she was leaving a liquor store parking lot on February 14 when she was pulled over by police. The officer randomly demanded a breath sample for McLeod despite the fact that she said she hadn't had a drink that day.
This is one of the changes to the law that McLeod is challenging. Now, under Canada's impaired driving laws police officers don't need just cause to demand a breath sample, they can demand one from anyone they pull over. This is called Mandatory Alcohol Screening. McLeod says that the police abused their power and this rule to randomly target her just by pulling her over in the first place.
Reportedly, the police officer's own reports also confirm this saying that he was watching cars who came out of the liquor store parking lot and pulling them over to see if they were driving under the influence.
McLeod's story gets worse, however. She says that the officer demanded a breath sample from her, but due to an implant in her mouth from having cancer, McLeod says she was unable to properly blow into the breathalyzer.
Despite trying to provide the sample numerous times, McLeod says the police officer accused her of purposely sabotaging the test and charged her with refusing to provide a breath sample.
This is another recent change to impaired driving laws in Canada. Now not providing a sample has the exact same penalty as impaired driving does. McLeod had her vehicle impounded for 30 days, her license suspended for 90 days, and now faces a number of fees like a reinstatement fee and towing fee.
McLeod is now officially challenging the drinking and driving laws saying they violate her Charter Rights and Freedoms. In the BC Supreme Court, McLeod's lawyers have filed an appeal saying that what she experienced violates her section eight, nine, and ten rights which protest against unreasonable search and seizure, arbitrary detention, and right to counsel.
However, McLeod may have a tricky legal battle ahead. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that police are allowed to pull over any driver at any time in order to check for impaired driving, meaning that McLeod's traffic stop could be considered completely lawful.
Disclaimer: Cover photo used for illustrative purposes only.