When you’re stopped for impaired driving, it’s the police who deal with you. Maybe you’ll be pulled over because someone called you in when you were driving erratically or you’ll be stopped at a checkpoint: either way, it’s always a member of local law enforcement who perform the field sobriety tests, ask you to submit to a breathalyzer, and take you to jail when you’re arrested for impaired driving.
But that doesn’t mean that the very people who seek to arrest impaired drivers don’t find themselves in the back of a squad car on occasion, and that’s never been truer than in Ontario over the past few years. Since 2010, more than 60 police officers from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have been stopped for impaired driving and disciplined before internal police tribunals.
Just like anyone, police officers can be stopped and arrested for impaired driving, although the arrest doesn’t always go the way they’d like it to.
Adam Morris, an officer in Toronto, was off duty when he downed a few drinks. He had his gun with him when he was pulled over, and although he told the arresting officer he had not been drinking, he failed a breathalyzer test. After he was arrested, he took two more breathalyzer tests, with one showing him exactly at the legal limit, and he was released with a 3-day drivers license suspension but no criminal charges.
An Aurora officer wasn’t as lucky, and the people he crashed into weren’t that lucky either. David Stilo got behind the wheel of his truck after drinking, and after crashing into a guardrail and taking out 5 of its posts, he kept driving until he hit a car head on. The couple were sent to the hospital with injuries and thankfully survived.
Another off duty officer, OPP Const. Bradley Charette, was demoted for six months after his impaired driving crash. He crashed into the back of a truck in Sault Ste. Marie and sent one person to the hospital with a head injury. He failed two breathalyzer tests and was charged with careless driving, but ended up pleading guilty to failure to turn to avoid a collision.
Despite the number of police officers who have been arrested for driving impaired, the OPP have remained committed to stopping law enforcement from driving drunk. Due to internal tribunals, the punishments for impaired driving don’t always seem to pan out in the same way that they would for a private citizen, but at least they’re taking steps to ensure police officers stay on the side of the law instead of sitting in the back seat of a squad car.