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

The North Island 9-1-1 Corporation (NI911) has supported local residents for 25 years. Black Press file photo
North Island 911 looks to change how they get funding

Three options to be decided upon in early 2021

B.C. will be testing its Alert Ready system on Nov. 25. Black Press Media file
Why some people don’t get emergency alert notifications

Province testing Alert Ready system on Wednesday

Diana deWitt of the Coastal Community Credit Union (right) presents a cheque for $500 to Knight Larry Panich in their ongoing support of the Knights of Columbus Christmas Hamper Fund. Photo contributed
Drop off donations at Campbell River Christmas Hamper Fund depot in Tyee Plaza

It is also one of two places where you can get your Christmas Hamper application

(Village of Sayward)
Sayward elects new mayor and two council members

New mayor-elect Mark Baker and council members will be sworn in on Dec. 1.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Michele Babchuk with Premier John Horgan and Clerk of the Legislature Katy Ryan-Lloyd. (BC Legislature)
Babchuk sworn in to B.C.’s 42nd Legislature

Oath ceremony held with MLAs connecting through video

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Stock photo
Senior from Gibsons caught viewing child porn sentenced to 10 months

74-year-old pleaded guilty after police seized 1,500-2,500 images

Most Read