Driving ban continues to cause grief for Prince Edward Island woman two years later

Amber MacPhail moved a vehicle while disqualified from driving while her family was away, attending to a dying relative

Nigel Armstrong NArmstrong@TheGuardian.pe.ca
Published on February 27, 2014

Scales of justice

Amber MacPhail has one charge of drunk driving from 2012 and years of trouble because of it, continuing all through the long medical journey and recent death of a family member.

From that 2012 impaired driving charge, MacPhail was under a court order not to drive for 12 months, but was caught driving in 2013 and given an additional driving suspension of 18 more months, plus 15 days in jail on weekends.

On Dec. 10 last year, RCMP officers noticed her driving past them near her home in Marshfield. She was arrested and later her car was impounded. The court heard that she likely took the licence plate off her vehicle before it was towed away.

In January this year all her family on P.E.I. were out of province to be with a critically ill family member. That family member died on Jan. 10.

MacPhail’s mother's vehicle was parked at her home while the family was away.

On Jan. 5, RCMP officers in Stratford who knew MacPhail and her driving prohibition saw her driving that car, using the licence plate from her other, impounded vehicle.

MacPhail, 36,  was charged a second time for driving while disqualified and that second car was also impounded.

She pleaded guilty to both counts of driving while disqualified in Charlottetown provincial court this week.

Defence lawyer Clare Henderson told the court that her client was under a huge amount of stress.

A man had been vandalizing her home off and on during a protracted domestic dispute and has been criminally charged with that activity.

Henderson told the court that MacPhail was trying to protect her mother’s car from possible vandalism by driving it to her mother’s residence in Stratford while the family was away.

There was no family at home in P.E.I. to help and MacPhail was taking cabs to work at the cost of $30 per day, the court heard.

“She is extremely sorry for her action,” said Henderson. “She is extremely sorry she has to be back here again.”

“I suppose if it weren’t for poor decisions, we would all be unemployed in this profession,” said Judge Nancy Orr.

Henderson asked the court to consider a weekend sentence again, and if so, to allow it to begin next week so MacPhail can take family members to Jack Frost celebrations as a relief from their recent turmoil.

Crown prosecutor Jeff MacDonald agreed and Orr imposed a total sentence of 60 days in jail on weekends starting next week, plus 18 more months of no driving, and a total of $300 for the victims of crime fund.