Accused in impaired driving walks out of court free

Published on April 9, 2014

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.