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'Out of breath' woman unable to provide two breathalyzer samples

Terrence McEachern
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 9, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - A 40-year-old Yellowknife woman who ran a red light and then almost crashed into a patrol car while trying to park her vehicle was sentenced in territorial court late last month for failing to provide a valid breathalyzer sample.

"I will never drink and drive again, even if I only have one (drink)," said the woman before being fined $1,380 and receiving a one-year driving ban from Judge Christine Gagnon on Jan. 25.

Gagnon granted the defence's request for six months to pay the fine.

On Dec. 12, 2010 at 12:10 a.m., the RCMP responded to a call from a municipal enforcement officer who pulled over a female driver who he believed had been driving while intoxicated, said Crown prosecutor Danielle Vaillancourt.

The bylaw officer spotted the woman driving erratically on Franklin Avenue - swerving back and forth. The officer followed the blue Ford Explorer as it drove through a red light on Franklin Avenue at the Gitzel Street intersection, and then as it pulled into the McNiven Place apartments parking lot, ignoring the patrol car's overhead lights. The driver tried to park in a space, and in doing so, nearly smashed into the officer's patrol car.

The bylaw officer arrested the woman on the suspicion of impaired driving after the officer noticed she had slurred speech, red glossy eyes and the smell of alcohol coming from her breath. At the RCMP detachment, she refused to speak to a lawyer, but agreed to provide two samples for a breathalyzer test.

At 1:29 a.m., the first breath sample failed to register.

A second attempt was made five minutes later where she registered 210 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood - well over the legal limit of 80 mg of alcohol.

At 1:57 a.m. she attempted a third sample on the breathalyzer, but this also failed. She said she was "too out of breath," said Vaillancourt.

Two valid breath samples are required for the breathalyzer test to be accepted by the court.

She told the officers she was driving because she went to pick up her boyfriend at the Gold Range, but the bar refused to let her in. Vaillancourt asked the court for a "higher than the minimum" fine of $1,400 to $1,600 and a driving ban of 16 to 18 months.

"She may have had good intentions to pick up her boyfriend, but luckily nothing more serious happened," said Vaillancourt.

Defence lawyer Serge Petitpas sought a fine for his client in the range of $1,000 to $1,200 and a one-year driving ban.

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