Not so under the influence

Rudy Norman
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Seal Cove woman has harrowing experience at hands of police

It was a night Vera Rice would rather forget.

The cancer survivor, now in her 60s, was pulled over by police heading home to Seal Cove from treatment and the hospital in Baie Verte and brought to the RCMP detachment in Deer Lake for drug testing.

Rice is now cancer-free. But the weak bones and treatment from years gone by have also left her with infections. A few years ago she underwent treatment for a serious infection that had gotten into her bones, and in recent weeks, the same type of infection has returned.

Rice says she travelled from Seal Cove to the hospital in Baie Verte for a couple of weeks, twice a day in order to receive intravenous treatment for the infection in her bones. The hours were often nonsensical, as the schedule of her treatments had her on the road all hours of the night.

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“I would go over in the evening, and the treatment would take so long, and it would be late in the night when I’d leave to go back home,” she said. “Then the next day I was back over there again in the early morning.”

The strain of driving back and forth to the hospital made for stressful and troubling times.

However, she says one particular night while leaving the hospital for treatment, she had an experience she won’t soon forget.

“I was driving home, and I was just about to take the turnoff to go out to Seal Cove,” she said. “I saw there was a cop car pulled off on the side of the road, but I didn’t mind that, I just went on. Then the cop car pulled out with their lights on and pulled me over.”

It was around midnight. Rice says she wasn’t speeding at the time, and was wearing her seatbelt, thus leaving her confused.

“The cop came up and asked me why I was going so slow” she said. “I told her I was going slow because it was dark, and I don’t like driving at night.”

Rice says the officer asked for her licence and registration, and also asked if she’d been drinking or doing drugs.

“I told her I’d just come from the hospital getting my treatment, so the only drugs that were in me were antibiotics,” she said.

After more questions, Rice says she was asked to get out of the car. It was then the officer issued a field sobriety test.

“She asked me to walk a straight line and to stand on one foot and balance, and all this,” said Rice. “I couldn’t do it because of my condition and the infection I had in my bones.”

Rice says she tried to explain to the officer about her condition and why she wasn’t able to do the things she asked, but felt she wasn’t heeded. Needless to say, the woman failed the test.

“She put me in the back of her car …  and told me she was taking me to Deer Lake for a drug test.”

Rice was shocked at the news.

“I asked her was there any need, and told her if she’d just go back to the hospital they could tell her what was wrong and why I couldn’t do what she wanted me to do.”

Rice says the officer wouldn’t consent to her wishes. After calling home to inform a friend what was happening, Rice says she was off to Deer Lake in the back of the squad car.

Once there, tests proved that she wasn’t under the influence. It was then they set off back to Baie Verte once again, arriving just after 5 a.m., and just a couple of hours before Rice was scheduled for her next treatment.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Why did I have to go through that? Wasn’t there an easier way to find out I wasn’t doing anything wrong?”

Cpl. Justin Hewlett with Baie Verte RCMP says everything that happened in this incident was normal procedure for a case like this.

“When it comes to people who are potentially under the influence of drugs, that takes specialized training to determine whether or not they are or not” he said. “There are only a few officers in the province who have that training, and unfortunately neither of them are stationed in Baie Verte.”

Hewlett says the closest officer available on the night of Rice’s incident was in fact in Stephenville, however to save time, he travelled to Deer Lake to carry out the tests there.

“When dealing with these circumstances, time is our biggest factor and it isn’t on our side,” he said. “If we identify someone who could potentially be under the influence, we have to get them tested as soon as we can, to ensure accurate results.”

That reasoning, he said, is why the officer that pulled Rice over didn’t heed her advice of investigating the matter with the hospital.

“We can’t spend time chasing down information — the fastest way to know if a person is a danger is to do the testing, and that’s what happened here.”

Hewlett says he realizes the experience may have been an unpleasant one for Rice, however, he stressed that the RCMP are merely doing their jobs.

“If we see someone we believe may be under the influence, based on our training and the signs we look for, then we have a duty to ensure that person is safe, and the rest of the public is safe. That’s our job.”

Rice says after some explanation she now understands why she had to go through what she went through.

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Seal Cove, Deer Lake, Baie Verte Stephenville

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Recent comments

  • Veronica corningstone
    July 12, 2014 - 07:37

    I'm sure the RCMP officers trained to do this type of testing are trained to recognize several signs of how the drug can impair the driver, not just rely on a urine test. Someone may have drugs in there system that may not be impairing them, the series of tests are meant to determine that. I have never heard of an incident where someone was hauled off for testing for no reason. Obviously there is more to this story then the one side we are reading.

  • Overhaul
    July 12, 2014 - 05:35

    It's time to revert society's protectors from police officers to peace officers. "There's no problem here but I'll get in the middle of it anyhow." I believe there should be one law, if you do something to hurt someone, you're liable. There are far too many regulations in the books impeeding progress. I was at a gas station/liquor store when an old woman with her grandson picked up a case of beer. After purchasing it, she told the boy to take the beer as she was barely mobile. The cashier stopped her and said the young man couldn't take it as he was underage. To be polite, the cashier to take the beer for her but being cordial the old woman took it herself and struggled out the door. Does anyone else think it's ridiculous? Naysayers may argue, if the police are more lax, the young people would go crazy! or everyone would drink and drive, or drink in public (God forbid)! Compare that to 40 years ago, when an officer pulled over a man who had been drinking and was driving home. The officer knew him to be a bus driver, reprimanded him for taking such a chance and told him to drive straight home and he would follow behind. The public was served and the bus driver's family didn't go hungry. What gets me is that we're supposed to be the smartest species on the planet but yet we have sooo many laws to dictate our movement.

  • Jeanette
    July 12, 2014 - 00:15

    es she did the same thing to me just bcause I took my night times meds which I was taken for many years..And it stated on my meds don't drive until you know how those meds react on you.. it did not say not to drive..but use caustion while driving they had me do the same thing as they had you to do in a storm then they handcuffed me took me to deerlake to carry out the test which I could not do bcause I have a very bad back then left me N there with no coat and only a pair sandles I had on my feet at the time so they left me N deerlake where I didn't know no one but it just happened that my son was at his friends place and came and got me if my son had not of bein at his friends house I would of bein left on the road where I never knew a soul and no coat or boots only sandles on a stormy night the reason why I had no coat or boots on was bcause it was really nice when I left..now the cop that did a eye test on me she said my eyes test showed as I was smoking a drug which I never did in my life the reason why i could not do the walk test is because on my bad SPINE.. and the meds I took I took them for many years be different if I just started taking them after all the years I took them pills they don't recate on me in anyway I felt very much alert on that night I would never take a car and drive if I felt tired in anyway what I went throught that night is still a compleate nightmare one I still waiting to wake up from I do not drink or smoke so if she can be wrong about my EYE test then she could be wrong about many other test she carried out if I was to tell you what happen to me on that terrorfing night. you probley wouldn't belive me I was charged for inpaired driving 1000 dollors fine I do have dreams about what happened on that night and it seem's so real like it all happening over again..it's a night I never everrrr FORGET ever it's a memory and not a good memory but one that will stay with me until my last breath and as far as im concern it's about 99% of people taking prescription drugs so half of the world is INPAIRED like I was i bet i would of did all my test just fine if I never had such a bad spine I feel so sorry for you to have to go through such terrifying experience.a nightmare I know.. for me im still hoping to wake up from but this wont happen to me the second time

  • Sheree Stagg
    July 11, 2014 - 11:17

    The response by the RCMP is nothing but BS! It only would have taken 2 minutes for that cop to call the hospital to verify what Vera was telling her was true.

  • Shirley Eastman
    July 10, 2014 - 16:32

    Why couldn't drug testing be done at the hospital instead of putting a person through this ordeal. , a quick phone call to the hospital could have saved a lot of time, the cop could have put to better use. Sorry Mrs Rice you had to experience this.

    • Jeanette
      July 12, 2014 - 00:23

      es she did the same thing to me just bcause I took my night times meds which I was taken for many years..And it stated on my meds don't drive until you know how those meds react on you.. it did not say not to drive..but use caustion while driving they had me do the same thing as they had you to do in a storm then they handcuffed me took me to deerlake to carry out the test which I could not do bcause I have a very bad back then left me N there with no coat and only a pair sandles I had on my feet at the time so they left me N deerlake where I didn't know no one but it just happened that my son was at his friends place and came and got me if my son had not of bein at his friends house I would of bein left on the road where I never knew a soul and no coat or boots only sandles on a stormy night the reason why I had no coat or boots on was bcause it was really nice when I left..now the cop that did a eye test on me she said my eyes test showed as I was smoking a drug which I never did in my life the reason why i could not do the walk test is because on my bad SPINE.. and the meds I took I took them for many years be different if I just started taking them after all the years I took them pills they don't recate on me in anyway I felt very much alert on that night I would never take a car and drive if I felt tired in anyway what I went throught that night is still a compleate nightmare one I still waiting to wake up from I do not drink or smoke so if she can be wrong about my EYE test then she could be wrong about many other test she carried out if I was to tell you what happen to me on that terrorfing night. you probley wouldn't belive me I was charged for inpaired driving 1000 dollors fine I do have dreams about what happened on that night and it seem's so real like it all happening over again..it's a night I never everrrr FORGET ever it's a memory and not a good memory but one that will stay with me until my last breath and as far as im concern it's about 99% of people taking prescription drugs so half of the world is INPAIRED like I was i bet i would of did all my test just fine if I never had such a bad spine I feel so sorry for you to have to go through such terrifying experience.a nightmare I know.. for me im still hoping to wake up from but this wont happen to me the second time