Drunk driver, arrested twice in one day, pleads guilty

Rosie Mullaley
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A long-awaited medical report will play a big role in sentencing for a woman caught driving drunk twice in one day two years ago.
When 62-year-old Dianne Bell appeared in provincial court in St. John's Monday, the judge expressed concern with the length of time it's taken the case to be resolved.

Judge Jim Walsh pointed out that it had been set for trial four times.

Defence lawyer Mark Gruchy apologized and explained that he had been waiting on a medical report for some time. He then handed Walsh a letter that provided more detail.

Gruchy said Bell fell through the cracks in the medical system in being diagnosed with a condition, and that's why it's taken so long.

It's very complex, said Gruchy, who didn't say what Bell's medical condition was.

Crown prosecutor Jennifer Colford said the letter has affected how the Crown will proceed with the prosecution. It's expected it will be a summary case, in which a lighter sentence is requested.

Walsh told Gruchy that if he encounters the same situation in the future, it would be best to subpoena the medical information.

Gruchy entered guilty pleas on behalf of his client. Gruchy said Bell has agreed to plead guilty to two counts of failing the breathalyzer and one count of refusing the breathalyzer.

Colford agreed to withdraw impaired driving charges in exchange for the guilty pleas.

The charges stem from three separate impaired driving- related incidents in 2010.

Each time, she was caught after being reported to police by employees at the Newfound Liquor Corp. (NLC) store on Stavanger Drive.

The first time, on Jan. 11, staff saw her pull up to the store and refused to serve her because she was so drunk. She was escorted to the manager's office, where police were called. Once officers arrived, she refused requests to take the breathalyzer test because she said she would fail it anyway.

She was charged and released from custody with the promise to appear in court.

Three months later, on April 25, she was arrested twice.

At around 2:20 p.m., NLC employees called police after Bell drove away from the store. They had noticed she was intoxicated and had refused to serve her, but Bell left. They noted her licence plate number and reported it to police, who arrested Bell at her house shortly afterwards.

Once again, she was released with a new court date.

But a little more than two hours later, she was back to the store, where she was again turned away. She left in her car and staff called police.

Officers showed up at her house again, but this time took her into custody.

She was granted bail the next day with the conditions that she abstain from alcohol and not drive.

Gruchy requested a pre-sentence report for Bell.

Sentencing has been set for July 22.



Organizations: Newfound Liquor

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