Sober 82-year-old woman fined for drunk driving

The RCMP forced Margaret MacDonald to stand outside in the cold for more than two hours while they attempted 15 times to obtain a breath sample.

When her poor lung capacity didn’t allow her to blow hard enough to activate the device she was cited for failing to blow, fined $500, her license was suspended, and her car was towed.

Afterward,she immediately went to the hospital for a blood test for alcohol — and obtained a medical certificate saying she had none in her system at the time.

“I know if you don’t have proof, no one will believe you. That’s what possessed me to go to the hospital,” Ms. MacDonald told The National Post. “The Mounties weren’t going to get away with saying I was drunk or had been drinking. I may only have six months, maybe a year; when you’re in your 80s you don’t know how long you have left. Why should I have to spend my days fighting this? I’m on a fixed income and it’s already cost me $6,000. I consider this whole matter to constitute a substantial wrong and a miscarriage of justice that could have been avoided if the officers involved had not jumped to the conclusion that I was impaired, had not completely ignored me, had discussed anything with me and had given me a chance to explain anything. Not one of them even asked if I had had a drink.”

When she was pulled over that night, her age or health conditions were not taken into consideration, she said. “At the age of 82, I have developed various health problems. Five years ago, I had pneumonia and was told by my doctor that I have scarring on one of my lungs; I have from time to time mild to mildly severe lung congestion,” she added.

After being cited, Ms.MacDonald took a cab to the hospital to obtain the blood test. After complaining to the Mounties, they provided her with a letter stating in part: “I believe it is only fair that this Driving Prohibition and Vehicle Impound be terminated and removed from your driving record as soon as possible to mitigate any further impact to yourself.”

But the adjudicator still denied her appeal and ordered her to register for the responsible driver program, get an Interlock ignition breath-testing unit installed on her car and pay the towing charges, saying that: “While you may have a medical condition with your lungs, based on the evidence I have before me, I am not convinced that you were not capable of providing an adequate sample of your breath into the (Approved Screening Device). Therefore I don’t accept it as an excuse for failing to comply with the demand.”

After her appeal was denied, she suffered a mild, stress-related heart attack.


A review has now been ordered into the case by B.C  Solicitor General Shirley Bond, who wants to know why the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles adjudicator upheld Ms. MacDonald’s roadside suspension and $500 fine, even though the Mounties provided a letter saying she should be exonerated.

Source: National Post


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