A woman who flipped her car on its side when she got behind the wheel while impaired has been handed a fine and driving prohibition.
Cheryl Whitecloud, 40, pleaded guilty in Brandon provincial court on Monday to operating a motor vehicle while over the legal limit and failing to attend court.
Whitecloud came to police attention on June 29, Crown attorney Deidre Badcock said, when they received a report of a single-vehicle rollover near Queen Elizabeth Park.
Officers found the vehicle tipped onto the driver’s side, Badcock said. No one was inside the vehicle and Whitecloud was located on scene.
A witness to the accident said she had been fishing nearby when she saw the car pull up with a woman driving and two male passengers.
The group parked and sat by the river drinking beer, the witness said, before getting back in the vehicle to leave.
It was at this time Whitecloud put the vehicle into reverse and backed into the ditch, causing her vehicle to roll.
The two passengers fled, Badcock said, but Whitecloud stayed on scene and waited for police.
Whitecloud was treated by paramedics for some cuts she suffered in the accident, Badcock said, and police noticed she was showing signs of impairment.
When officers asked if Whitecloud was impaired, she responded that she "probably" was, later admitting to having four or five beers.
Breath samples Whitecloud provided showed she was almost double the legal limit, Badcock said.
"It’s really a matter of luck that Ms. Whitecloud didn’t injure or kill herself given the situation here and her very high readings," Badcock said.
Defence lawyer Ryan Fawcett said incident was a bit of a "freak accident," adding it wasn’t a situation where she was driving at a high rate of speed or collided with another vehicle.
"I understand that it was raining that day and the terrain at Queen Elizabeth Park was a little bumpy. She reversed and somehow the car ended up on its side," Fawcett said.
Whitecloud has been put under a lot of financial strain since the incident, Fawcett added, as insurance won’t cover the damage to her vehicle and she lost her job as a result of the driving suspension.
"I asked her about her decision to drink and drive and she described it as ‘stupid,’ which I think is an appropriate assessment," Fawcett said. "This is a horrible decision that will probably haunt Ms. Whitecloud for years to come."
Judge John Combs sentenced Whitecloud to $1,700 in fines for both charges as well as a one-year driving prohibition.
"It’s really tragic, Ms. Whitecloud, that a momentary series of bad decisions has resulted in such a dramatic effect to your life," Combs said. "The consequences of drinking and driving are serious."
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