Accused in impaired driving walks out of court free

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PICTOU  - A Pictou County man who pleaded not guilty to impaired driving charges walked out of a local courtroom without a conviction Wednesday.

 

Benjamin Marshal Margeson, 26, had pleaded not guilty to charges of driving while impaired and driving with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit.  

Once his trial began, his lawyer Ed Patterson argued that his client’s charter rights were violated because he showed no signs of impairment when he pulled up to an East River Road police checkpoint on Sept. 13, yet he had to submit to testing as a possible impaired driver.

The officer who stopped Margeson testified that the man pulled his vehicle safety to a stop at the checkpoint and was polite when answering the officer’s questions. However, he stated that that the man’s eyes were red and watery and he was acting nervous.

When the officer asked him if he was drinking that evening, he said Margeson started to say, yes, but then corrected himself and said, no.  He later told officers he was at a party and had a beer.

Margeson failed a roadside breath sample test and was taken for further testing by a trained technician.

Provincial Court Judge Del Atwood said that the officer had the right to ask for a test from Margeson based on evidence provided to the courts and that Margeson’s rights were not violated.

However, Atwood said, based on testimony heard at the trial, he said there was insufficient evidence to prove that Margeson was impaired by alcohol so he acquitted him of that charge.

The judge than drew attention to a second charge that states a person can be charged if their blood alcohol level exceeds the normal limit of .80 mgs of alcohol in 100 ml of blood.  

Atwood pointed out to that there was a time error on the certificate submitted by technician who took Margeson’s breath sample.  

He said the original certificate showed testing was done at 1:26 a.m., but a second, corrected certificate was presented four months later that showed the time to be 2:26 a.m.

Atwood said there was no evidence presented as to who detected and corrected the mistake or when the mistake was noticed.  

“This is human error,” he said. “Everyone makes mistakes, but when the impact of the mistake is left unanswered, it leaves the court in a state of doubt.”

He said such an error leaves the court in “reasonable and substantial doubt” and since no further evidence was called on the matter to clarify the situation, Atwood told Margeson he was free to go. 

Geographic location: East River Road

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  • elk
    April 10, 2014 - 05:37

    This is why you shut your mouth when you go through these checkpoints. Don't answer any questions regardless. One little slip up and they can say you're nervous, slurred speech or smell alcohol of your breath and use that as probable cause. Police here will fabricate something to get you in trouble. Video record any interactions with police and exercise your right to remain silent. There's no benefit to talking to police.

    • County Guy
      April 10, 2014 - 11:02

      Elk - Let's just hope nobody takes you seriously... The police did nothing wrong in this case. perhaps you would re think your thoughts if you were a victim of a dunk driver.

    • anon
      April 10, 2014 - 13:40

      Another solution when you get to these checkpoints is not to be impaired.

  • One Guy, One Voice
    April 09, 2014 - 22:30

    Our Drinking and Driving Laws are a joke. His rights weren't infringed upon whatsoever. It is the cops job to ensure drunks aren't on the road, this incident took place at a pre-determined checkpoint (not that, that should matter), his eyes were watery and was acting nervous, and changed his answer. The cops are supposed to be able to think outside the box, as this cop did and now this guy has a 2nd chance to drink and drive and cause damage.

    • shocked and amazed
      April 10, 2014 - 07:46

      I agree with OneGuy, One Voice. Cops have the right to question anyone they think may be breaking the law. I hope he takes this incident as a warning to not drive impaired and not think he can get away with it next time. This is serious! I know some people think if they are not fallen down drunk and only had a couple drinks that they can still drive. NOT TRUE! Please people think of the consequences. For the sake of a $10 cab, you could save a lot.....your license, fines, injuries, and most importantly......a life!

  • johnny smoke
    April 09, 2014 - 18:01

    Thank God that there are lawyers like Ed Patterson who go to bat for the accused. If it was left up to the cops, they would have you charged and convicted if you walked by a liquor store. Funny thing though it seems like there are quite a few cops themselves being charged. Maybe they too should be calling Mr Patterson for some good advice.