A teenage boy who hit a moose while driving high, injuring a passenger in his car has been handed a hefty fine and driving prohibition.
"One of the reasons that you can’t be driving while under the influence is because your reaction time is not as good as it otherwise might be," Judge Kael McKenzie told the teen during his sentencing on Tuesday.
"Perhaps all of this could have been avoided and your passenger perhaps wouldn’t have had to suffer the pain and injury of the accident."
The teen, who is now 18 years old but was 17 at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty in Brandon provincial court to operating a motor vehicle while being impaired by drug.
He cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
On Jan. 15, 2019, Blue Hills RCMP responded to a single-vehicle collision on Highway 10 where a car had hit a moose, Crown attorney Caroline Lacey said.
Officers arrived and found an injured passenger sitting in the back seat, bleeding, Lacey said. The teen identified himself to police as the driver.
Officers took the teen into their police cruiser to escape the winter weather conditions and immediately smelled cannabis on him, Lacey said. At that time he denied any drug use.
The teen was chatty, Lacey said, talking fast and laughing, which police found strange considering he had just been in an accident where a passenger was hurt.
The teen told police they were on their way home from shopping and visiting friends in Brandon when all of a sudden there was a moose in the road.
The passenger suffered a broken nose and a fractured vertebrae in the collision, Lacey said.
Officers surveying the scene found a clear bong laying on the floor of the passenger seat, Lacey said, and a large amount of loose marijuana scattered throughout the vehicle, primarily in the driver’s seat.
The teen was arrested and taken to the hospital, where he admitted he had consumed one to two joints earlier that day.
Blood samples taken showed the teen had 5.4 nanogram of THC in his blood, Lacey said, a little more than the five nanogram legal limit.
Defence lawyer Lorne Giesbrecht told the court the teen has already faced significant consequences for his actions as someone who lives in rural Westman without access to public transportation or taxi services.
He has had to rely on his mother for rides to school and work, Giesbrecht said, and has resorted to walking the long distance from one to the other.
"The accident itself was a true accident … the moose appeared out of nowhere, a true nightmare for drivers on the highway," Giesbrecht said. "This is a classic case of a young person who did one really bad thing."
McKenzie took into consideration the teen had no criminal record, he said, but also noted it was aggravating that there was an accident and someone was hurt.
"Deterrence and denunciation is paramount," McKenzie said. "The safety of people on our highways — society takes this very seriously."
The teen was handed a total fine of $1,560 and a one-year driving prohibition.
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