(THUNDER BAY, ON) – In a Thunder Bay Courthouse courtroom on December 17th, 2019 a 59-year-old Shirly Burns appeared to enter a guilty plea and be sentenced for an impaired driving charge that was laid on her.
Justice Valente was presiding over the matter that day along with Crown Attorney Gordon Filmore and longtime and expert criminal defence lawyer David Bruzzese who was representing Burns.
According to the agreed statement of facts, on April 8th, 2019 officers with the Thunder Bay Police Service attended the area of Red River Road and Court Street after reports were made regarding an impaired driver who was operating an E-bike. Upon police arrival, they located a female, 59-year-old Shirly Burns and an e-bike that was laying on the ground. Burns told the police “I had a couple drinks” while showing clear signs of intoxication including slurred speech and an odour of alcoholic beverage.
The interaction between Burns and the police was caught on camera and posted to the Thunder Bay Courthouse – Inside Edition Facebook page. We have obtained a copy of that video and it is posted below.
The police investigation determined that Burns was swerving on the e-bike on the roadway and had struck another vehicle. The e-bike was being operated by the motor and not by the pedals, which were not attached at that time. Officers charged her with impaired operation of a conveyance and a breath demand was made before being transported to the Thunder Bay Police Service station located at 1200 Balmoral Street. At the police station, two breath demands were taken.
Gary’s Towing arrived on location and hauled away the e-bike soon after.
Two breath samples, both taken within the required amount of time yielded results of 210mg and 200mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Court hears that the high numbers she blew is an aggravating factor in the matter.
Bruzzese begins making submissions on behalf of his client, Burns. He tells the court that Burns is on ODSP and volunteers for Elevate. Through counsel, it is stated that Burns was not aware that operating an e-bike is a conveyance under the Criminal Code and adds that under the Highway Traffic Act, it is not considered a conveyance. Burns has a criminal record for impaired but the last entry was 14 years ago.
A joint submission is entered by both the Crown and defence which would have Burns ordered to pay a $2000 fine along with a 2-year driving prohibition along with 12 months of probation. Bruzzese asks for 18 months for Burns to pay the fine as she has limited income.
Justice Valente accepts the joint submission and imposes the fine, probation, and driving prohibition. Court hears that she will also likely have an additional year of a driving prohibition added on by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.
Her probation conditions will be:
- Report to probation as required.
- Attend and participate in any counselling and programs ordered by probation.
- Attend counselling for alcohol and substance abuse.
Burns walks out of the court room and begins her journey through probation.