It started when James Williams changed his mind. He was driving in a right-turn-only lane in Lethbridge when he suddenly decided that a right turn was a bad idea. So he hopped into the left lane, cutting off the car in that lane.
Dangerous driving in front of a cop car. Strike one.
When the police stopped him, they noticed he was acting weird (walking away from the car, for example), and that the car smelled like alcohol, probably from the six beer cans inside, five of which were empty. He failed a roadside breath test.
Impaired driving. Strike two.
This was all enough to have Mr. Williams taken to the station, where he refused an evidentiary breath test.
Refusal. Strike three.
Finally, it was discovered that the car he was driving was stolen.
Receiving stolen property. Strike four – did we say this was baseball?
Needless to say, this quadruple hit landed our hero in a lot of trouble. To see how much trouble, check out how Alberta rates the offenses in question:
- Dangerous driving garners a criminal record and a one-year licence suspension for a first offence.
- Impaired driving is also a criminal charge. Alberta mandates an ignition interlock – a device which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking – for all offenses with a BAC of .08 or more. The driver must also take a “Planning Ahead” course.
- Refusing a breathalyzer is a criminal offence in Alberta, punishable by a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000, and a one-year driving prohibition.
- Possession of stolen property is a crime, and the punishment is up to 6 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Some of those charges were dismissed, but the test refusal and stolen property charges were pressed.
We don’t know what our hero will learn from this episode, apart from obvious lessons like “don’t drive stolen cars.” What he should be taking away is the understanding that it’s almost impossible to conceal drinking and driving for any length of time. Your judgment, reflexes and senses are compromised, and police are trained to spot impairment. One false move – cutting off a police car is an obvious one, but it can be a lot more subtle – is enough to trigger an officer’s curiosity. From there, it’s pretty certain that they’ll spot a drunk driver.
Of course, having six beer cans in the car just makes it easier for them.