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Passed out drunk woman
in running car given fine, driving ban

Terrence McEachern
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - A 20-year-old Yellowknife woman found passed out drunk in her parked car while the vehicle was still running was handed a $2,000 fine and a two-year driving ban on Feb. 15 in territorial court.

"I'm surprised, looking at you, that you can ingest that much alcohol and get to that level," Judge Bernadette Schmaltz said to the petite woman.

Schmaltz also told her the "luckiest" thing that happened to her was that she was caught because too many people are killed in drunk driving accidents.

"Nobody is addicted to driving. If you're going to drink, don't drive," she warned.

Crown prosecutor Janice Walsh told the court on Dec. 1, 2010 at 2:40 a.m. the Yellowknife RCMP received a complaint of a car running in the Shell gas station parking lot on Range Lake Road. When the police officer arrived, he found the woman in the driver's seat slumped over and passed out with the car still running.

The officer opened the door and tried waking her up by calling to her and shaking her arm. He then got the woman to sit up, but she again slumped against the steering wheel, said Janice Walsh.

Eventually, the officer was able to awaken the woman and take her to the Yellowknife RCMP detachment. She registered two breathalyzer samples at 230 and 240 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood - three times the legal limit of 80 mg.

Walsh said she was seeking a greater punishment for the offence of being intoxicated and in care and control of a motorized vehicle. She asked Schmaltz to impose a jail term in the range of 30 to 45 days and a 24 to 28 month driving ban for the first-time offender.

The woman's lawyer, Jeremy Walsh, submitted a copy of the woman's resume to the court. He told the court his client is currently working two jobs to save money so she can attend college in Alberta.

The woman recently graduated from Sir John Franklin High School with a 96 per cent average. Walsh said his client made a "bad decision that put herself and others in the community in danger."

He added the woman pleaded guilty early and the awareness she could go to jail has been a "huge wake-up call" for her. Walsh requested the minimum $1,000 fine and a 12-month driving ban for his client.

"You have a lot of potential - don't waste it," said Schmaltz while sentencing the woman.

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