B.C. woman pulled over for being impaired passenger sues police officer, province

Sarah Coghill was detained and her vehicle impounded for being an impaired passenger

A Nelson resident is suing a Nelson Police Department officer and the provincial government following an unusual traffic incident in December.

Sarah Cogswell was arrested for impaired driving and her car was impounded while she was a passenger in a car driven by her adult son, Tiernan Cogswell.

According to a notice of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on March 6, Const. Alain Therrien stopped the vehicle in a roadblock on Dec. 13. Tiernan Cogswell passed a blood alcohol test administered by Therrien.

By prior arrangement with his mother, Tiernan was giving her and her husband a ride home from a party at which the pair had been drinking.

Therrien was working as a part of the West Kootenay Integrated Safety Unit, which is a collaboration, run by the province of B.C., between the RCMP and municipal police forces to provide traffic enforcement.

The narrative outlined in this article is based on Cogswell’s notice of claim. Neither Therrien nor the province have yet filed a response.

Tiernan Cogswell’s driver’s licence was a Class 7 learner’s licence, which required him to be supervised by a person over 25 with a full licence sitting in the front passenger seat. That’s where his mother was seated when Therrien stopped them.

Therrien conducted a blood alcohol test on Sarah Cogswell, which she failed.

The court documents allege that Therrien then repeatedly admonished her for transporting her son when she was under the influence of alcohol, calling her a “bad mother” and saying, “It is a good thing [she] didn’t kill anyone tonight.”

He held her for 45 minutes in his car, arrested her for impaired driving, imposed a 90-day driving prohibition and impounded her car, the notice of claim says.

The B.C. Motor Vehicle Act does not specify that the supervisor of a learning driver must be sober.

On Dec. 20, Sarah Cogswell requested a formal review of the incident, but before the review was held, the driving suspension was lifted and the vehicle returned.

Cogswell’s lawsuit asks for $30,000 in damages for physical and mental pain and suffering, wrongful arrest and detainment, lost income, and violation of a number of her Charter rights including the right to liberty and security of the person.

The legal basis of the case is that Sarah Cogswell had not committed an offence and that Therrien had no reason to believe she had, that Therrien did not meet accepted standards of police conduct, and that his comments about her gender and family status were discriminatory and an aggravating factor.

An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that Therrien was an RCMP officer. He is a member of the Nelson Police Department.

READ MORE: B.C. woman pulled over for being impaired passenger gets licence, car back


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

impaired drivingRCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CN suspending service between Williams Lake and Squamish, effective April 3

Rail traffic north of Williams Lake will be routed to Vancouver through Prince George and Kamloops

COVID-19: Interior Health orders closure of all fitness centres until May 30

The order is subject to revision, cancellation, or extension

Cache Creek council makes decision to close pool for 2020 season

Effects of COVID-19 pandemic and delinquent taxes two factors in decision

Q&A: Interior Health CEO answers questions on COVID-19 response

Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health, answers questions regarding COVID-19

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

General exposure to public low after inmate tests positive for COVID-19: Interior Health

The Okanagan Correctional Centre inmate is receiving appropriate care

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Most Read