Leanne Redlich, 43, is relieved to be exonerated after an ordeal that saw her charged by Peel Regional Police back in 2012.
MISSISSAUGA — No matter how many times she tried, Leanne Redlich just couldn't muster up the strength.
The 43-year-old Etobicoke mother of four says she has medical conditions that put limits on her everyday life, and prevented her from complying with a Peel Regional Police officer's demand to give a breath sample into an approved screening device two years ago when she was pulled over during a holiday RIDE initiative.
Despite that, Redlich was charged criminally with failing to provide a breath sample. Under provincial law, Redlich lost her licence for 90 days and her Hummer SUV was impounded. She also had to pay thousands in legal fees before she was finally acquitted in Brampton court this year.
"It's been a nightmare," said Redlich, a personal trainer, wellness coach and owner of FitPro Edge Inc. "I'm a professional business woman and there was no logical reason for me to be charged. There was absolutely zero negligence on my part."
Redlich said she had dinner with a friend and had just left a Port Credit restaurant in the late evening on Dec. 11, 2012 when she was pulled over near Hurontario Street and Lakeshore Road.
Court documents show the officer was Peel Const. Pawel Papis, whose been with the force since 2009. He asked Redlich to provide a breath sample to see how much alcohol was in her system.
An officer in Ontario is within his rights to ask for a breath sample. The approved screening device is merely calibrated to show if the person would pass, fail or receive a warning.
Redlich said she explained to the officer her multiple ailments and, after several unsuccessful attempts to register a reading on the device, she was charged.
"He just kept telling me that I had to do the test," she said. "He was overbearing and overpowering. I didn't have anything to drink."
Though Redlich wasn't charged during a RIDE spot-check, her name was on a list of people charged during the force's Festive Season RIDE Campaign in 2012.
Redlich's vehicle was impounded and her licence was suspended for 90 days.
Court documents show Redlich was arrested and charged with failing or refusing to provide a breath sample "without reasonable excuse."
Peel Regional Police have not responded to a request for comment on the case.
The case went to court and in the middle of the trial, after Pawis testified and was cross-examined, the Crown invited the judge to acquit Redlich, according to her lawyer, Calvin Barry.
As a result, Justice Steven R. Clark found Redlich not guilty of the charge this past summer.
"The officer was inconsistent in a lot of his testimony. His notes were so shoddy that the Crown Attorney invited the judge to acquit," Barry said.
Ontario's Attorney General's Office spokesperson Brendan Crawley referred The News to the judge's ruling when asked for comment on the acquittal.
Barry said he and Redlich were prepared to introduce medical evidence that proved she wasn't capable of providing a breath sample. He added his client is relieved the ordeal is over.
"In her case, this was just stressful because it was hanging over her head," he said.
Barry said he understands why the officer charged Redlich because drivers could obviously try to lie their way out of providing a breath sample.
But Barry said he vehemently opposes the laws that allow police to impound vehicles and suspend driver's licences when the charges haven't worked their way through the court.
"It's unfair. You're supposed to be presumed innocent," he said. "And in this case, where the accused is fully exonerated, who is going to give my client her 90-day suspension back?"
Redlich is looking forward to continuing her work as a personal trainer and putting more time into Project Smiles, a non-profit organization which she founded that seeks to raise money for children's charities such as Ronald McDonald House.
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