Wabasca woman facing 7-year driving ban

Richard Froese
South Peace News

A 36-year-old woman will spend more time behind bars after pleading guilty to her fourth charge of impaired driving.

Susan Okemow, of Wabasca, was handed a global sentence of 24 months in jail for four alcohol-related charges, including one causing bodily harm, when she appeared in High Prairie provincial court Jan. 15.

Okemow was credited for 143 days already served, currently in the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre.

Okemow pleaded guilty to driving a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content over 80 mg causing bodily harm, one count of impaired driving and two counts for refusing/failing to provide a breath sample.

“Offences are numerous,” Judge D.R. Shynkar said during sentencing.

“They are offences that put the community at risk.”

Okemow was also banned from driving for seven years.

He adds alcohol continues to be menace.

“This is a serious problem in society,” Judge Shynkar said. “Each year, there is a funeral for someone killed by an impaired driver.”

Two people were taken to hospital with serious injuries when Okemow was impaired in a collision in Loon Lake on Sept. 28, 2016, Andre Arseneau, Crown chief prosecutor told court.

Her breath samples recorded 270 mg, over three times the legal limit.

“The aggravating factor was that she was prohibited from driving at the time,” the Crown said.

Okemow also provided two breath samples of 270 mg during another incident on Sept. 17, 2015 in Wabasca.

Okemow refused to provide breath samples on July 9, 2017 in Kapawe’no and on Jan. 5, 2017.

The judge agreed with her lawyer that her First Nations heritage affects her lifestyle.

“We have to have empathy for this woman because of her upbringing,” said lawyer Allan Crawford.

“She suffered from abuse and alcoholism.”

Okemow was further fined $300 each for driving while disqualified, obstructing a peace officer and three counts of failing to attend court.

On one occasion, she identified herself to police by another name and date of birth.

Okemow now has four impaired charges since her first in 2001.

Judge Shynkar also credited Okemow with plans to change her lifestyle.

“She has taken some steps to get a sober life,” he noted.


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