August 31, 2012
Woman not too stoned to drive: Judge
By QMI Agency
Stoned drivers aren't necessarily impaired drivers, according to one Saskatchewan case that might make it difficult for similar future prosecutions.
In a decision published recently on the legal resource journal CanLii, Judge D.E.Labach ruled that Sherry Perillat was not too impaired to drive on June 19, 2011, even though she admitted to having smoked pot and the cop who pulled her over testified her car had an "overwhelming odour of marijuana."
According to the judge's decision, Const. Clayton Schaefer asked Perillat to pull over to a checkstop even though she was driving correctly and in the proper lane.
When he got the car, he smelled the pot and asked her if she'd been drinking. She said no. He asked if she'd "had anything to smoke, such as marijuana." She said no. She then backtracked and admitted that, yes, she had smoked weed about 2 1/2 hours earlier. She pointed the cop to a roach in her car.
She was able to perform the traditional toe-to-heel test administered to suspected boozers. She was also able to maintain her balance standing on one foot. When asked to touch her nose, however, she missed four out of five times.
The officer arrested her for impaired driving and had her take a drug test, which showed marijuana in her system.
Nevertheless, the judge said there was no reason to suspect she was too impaired to drive.
"Schaefer did not observe any problems with the accused's driving as she approached the checkstop, when she was directed into the checkstop or when he instructed her to drive out of the line of cars in the checkstop and park in the adjacent parking lot. She had no problems understanding the officer or answering his questions. She was able to provide him with her licence without problem. He did not notice any slurring of speech," the judge wrote.
"She had no difficulty following the officer's instructions or getting out of her vehicle. When he asked her to take her hand off her vehicle and step away from it she did so without problem. She did not have to hold onto anyone or anything for balance and after he handcuffed her, she had no problems walking to his police car and getting into the back seat.
"By all accounts she was polite and co-operative with the officer. All of these observations occurred at the roadside and within minutes of the accused's driving."
In Saskatchewan, .08 per cent is the legal blood-alcohol limit. There is no equivalent for marijuana.