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)

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

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

(Photo of an RV posted to Flickr by user Greg Gjerdingen)
Vernon dumps sani-station temporarily

City councillors voted to close sani-station instead of relocating it temporarily

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

Lumby resident Dan Hill was at Vernon’s Polson Park to celebrate 4-20 by giving away free marijuana joints to people of age April 20, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Lumby man back in Vernon with free joints, cupcakes on 4-20

Dan Hill is trying to help people of age relax during a stressful April with marijuana giveaway

Police are seeking the public’s assistance identifying a man who allegedly robbed a Vernon business the evening of Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (RCMP photo)
Police search for man who allegedly robbed Vernon business with weapon

The suspect is said to have threatened an employee before running off with two bottles of liquor

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Kate Budau’s flat tire outside of Glenmore Elementary School on Monday. (Contributed)
Kelowna mom searches for Good Samaritans who helped her change a tire

Woman looking for two dads who helped her after her tire popped in the Glenmore Elementary School drop-off area on Monday

John Wekking, Merritt Road Report - Facebook
 Coquihalla Road Report
Wildfire sparks off Coquihalla in Merritt

The wildfire is located near the Dollarama off of Highway 5

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

A lit cigarette tossed from a passing car is believed to be the cause of a grass fire which was only held to a ditch by the quick action of passersby in Salmon Arm on April 19. (Pixabay image)
Passersby fight Salmon Arm roadside grass fire believed started by flicked cigarette

Dry conditions prompt warning from resident, fire department

Most Read