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Surrey MVA prompts ‘chaotic’ court request

Judge rules against route proposed for impaired-driving investigation
(File photo)

A driver suing the Mounties in connection with an ongoing investigation into a 2022 collision in South Surrey has had efforts that could have delayed potential criminal proceedings quashed.

The case arose from a serious three-vehicle collision that occurred on Highway 99, near the 32 Avenue off-ramp, on Oct. 15, 2022.

According to the courts, responding officers found one vehicle on its side near the median, a second in the middle of the road and a third down an embankment.

Occupants of two vehicles sustained “significant” injuries and witnesses reported “that a Caucasian female, approximately 30 years old, wearing a wraparound grey shirt/sweater, was seen walking away from the scene, southbound on Highway 99.”

A judgment released in February states that a woman identified as the registered owner of one of the three vehicles was located approximately 300m away, walking with one bare foot and the other in only a sock. She had blood visible on the bridge of her nose, the document reads.

Police suspected impairment may have played a role in the MVA, the document continues, and arrested the woman for refusing to provide a breath sample, as well as for failing to stop after a crash.

READ ALSO: 222 impaired drivers taken off B.C. streets in 1 night

In court, the driver sought to have paragraphs removed from an officer’s affidavit, and for the return of items seized in connection with the investigation, including a blood sample.

The sample was taken after police transported the woman to hospital; it was seized under warrant five days later and lab analysis determined a blood-alcohol content of .166-.188 per cent.

Const. Chandra Sharma seized identification, four driver’s-side airbags and part of the driver’s seatbelt during a vehicle search conducted on Nov. 4, 2022.

Detention orders were granted, but expired before a DNA profile of the driver could be obtained. A DNA sample was sought for comparison with female DNA that was found on one of the airbags, the judgment states.

That comparison could not be done, however, until after the airbag blood had been re-tested.

Sharma received authorization to further detain the items, as well as a warrant for the arrested woman’s DNA.

The driver asked the court to adjourn the proceedings surrounding the seizures to allow for steps related to her civil matter. She also asked that the seized items be returned to her “without any further use or dissemination,” alleging police had violated several of her charter rights.

In ruling against the applications, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan found that allowing that process to play out would “create chaos in the court system” and “completely fail to protect… societal interests in the investigation of crime.”

Donegan noted the “novelty” of the application, but found “none of the factors at play in this case support an adjournment.”

“Instead of identifying a correct legal vehicle to safely operate to her intended destination, (the driver’s) approach would force two vehicles to crash together, rendering them both inoperable and creating chaos on the highway.”

Donegan found the airbag in question has “evidentiary value and is reasonably required for this investigation and any potential future trial.”

“The DNA located on the airbag… is highly probative of the identity of the driver at the time of the collision under investigation,” she concludes.

She added she has “no difficulty” concluding that the blood sample and resulting analysis are key to the investigation and any court proceedings that could take place should charges be laid.

Noting there is “a significant public interest” in the investigation of impaired driving offences, Donegan ultimately extended the detention orders until May 20, 2024.

Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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