Judge orders Vernon teen caught drunk driving to write essay on its dangers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Judge orders Vernon teen caught drunk driving to write essay on its dangers

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February 18, 2020 - 5:00 AM

A Vernon teenager who was caught drinking and driving was ordered by a B.C. Provincial Court judge to write an essay about its dangers.

Judge Clarke Burnett told Paige Brown while reading out his sentence, she made a “foolish mistake” in choosing to drink and drive and it was fortunate that no one was seriously hurt when she crashed the truck she was driving into a tree.

While apology letters to victims are sometimes ordered by judges as part of a probation order, it’s unusual for the court to mandate an essay on a specific topic. 

The court heard how Brown, who was 18 years old at the time, had been drinking with friends at Kin Beach last July. Brown then left the beach with her boyfriend in a truck. The couple got into an argument and the boyfriend grabbed the steering wheel, causing the truck to go off the road and collide with a tree near Clarence Fulton Secondary School.

While no one witnessed the accident, a group of people soon arrived on the scene to help.

However, instead of being grateful for the assistance, Brown was unhappy that the police were being called and punched one female bystander in the head. Luckily the woman was not injured.

When police arrived they discovered open alcohol in Brown’s truck and concluded her breath smelled of booze. She held a novice driving licence was not allowed to have any alcohol in her blood while driving.

Appearing at the Vernon courthouse Feb. 12, Brown, who is now 19 years old and studying for a degree, faced charges of driving while impaired, driving with a blood alcohol content higher than 0.08, and assault.

In a joint submission put forward by the Crown and defence, Brown pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of driving without due care and attention and the Crown stayed the charge of driving with a blood alcohol count over 0.08. The teenager also pleaded guilty to the assault charge.

Citing her age, clean record, her remorse, and strong family support, the lawyers also successfully argued for a conditional discharge, meaning Brown will not get a criminal record if she complies with orders.

Crown prosecutor Brock Bellrichard told the court there were “Charter issues” involved in the case, but did not explain further. Nor was it explained to the court why, if the teenager admitted to drunk driving, had been charged with drunk driving and part of her sentence was to write an essay on drunk driving, she was not being convicted for drunk driving.

Ultimately, Burnett granted Brown a conditional discharge with 18 months of probation, a one-year driving ban and a $1,000 fine. The 19-year-old will also have to apologize to the woman she punched, complete 20 hours of community service, and write an essay on the dangers of drink driving. There was no word count specified as to the length of the essay.

Brown was also due back in court the following day, Feb. 13, charged with mischief and breaching a court order on a separate matter.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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