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'I'm so sorry': Woman fined $3K for impaired driving crash

Originally from Ukraine, 53-year-old said the war in her homeland was weighing heavy on her mind when police found her with an open vodka soda in her car
The Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse is pictured in this file photo.

The war in Ukraine was weighing heavily on Maria Kudyba in February, a judge heard Tuesday.

A Sault Ste. Marie resident, the 53-year-old woman came to Canada in 1995 but still has family in her war-torn homeland.

"She was struggling with that" and "was under stress," her lawyer said, after she pleaded guilty to impaired driving in connection with a Feb. 23 crash on Black Road.

City police responded to the collision and found the driver was having trouble getting out of the vehicle, prosecutor Adrianna Mucciarelli said. 

Kudyba wasn't capable of doing that without the assistance of the officers, the Crown told Ontario Court Justice Romuald Kwolek.

An open vodka soda can was in the cup holder, and two more cans, along with an LCBO receipt, were located in a bag on the passenger door.

The accused wasn't able to get into the cruiser — she missed the seat and slid down — and the officers had to help her get into the police car, Mucciarelli said.

The assistant Crown attorney and defence lawyer Anthony Orazietti jointly recommended a $3,000 fine and a two-year driving prohibition.

Kudyba has a prior conviction, the court heard.

Mucciarelli noted the collision occurred on a section of the Trans Canada Highway, a busy route which at times has heavy traffic.

It's especially aggravating how impaired the woman was.

"She couldn't stand on her own."

The prosecutor called Kudyba's guilty plea to an offence that occurred just seven months ago a mitigating factor.

Orazietti said his client, who has been employed at a supermarket since 1999, hasn't had a drink since the incident, and attends AA meetings two to three times a week.

A $3,000 fine, plus the victim surcharge, is "a significant amount."

Family members from Ukraine are currently visiting her, he told Kwolek

"I just want to apologize for my actions," an emotional Kudyba said. "I'm so sorry for what happened."

When he imposed sentence, Kwolek cited a number of aggravating factors: the accident, time of day when there was a lot of traffic and the accused's significant degree of intoxication.

The judge agreed the guilty plea, which occurred at an early opportunity, is mitigating and a sign of remorse.

Kudyba "is visibly upset" and apologizing, and has taken steps to deal with her issues.

The situation in her homeland is a stressor, but not an excuse, Kwolek said.

"The fine will have an impact on her and so will the two-year prohibition."

In addition to the fine, he also imposed a 30-per-cent victim surcharge.

Kudyba will have two years to pay that $900 penalty.

About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 45 years.
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