Thank you for a great editorial on court procedures on drunk drivers in last weeks edition. Even though I am not with the RCMP I can feel for them, having spent 22 years as a patrol constable in Saskatoon before retiring in 2007 and moving to Invermere.
One lasting impression I would like to share with you was a drunk driver in about 2000, caught by my partner and me at 0230 hrs. It was THE last drunk driver I processed until my retirement seven years later.
Since this incident I only stopped drunks, gave them a 24-hour suspension and called them a cab to drive home. In Saskatchewan there were no financial shortfalls attached to this other than the cab fare. Come to the police station 24 hours later and pick up your license; thats it.
This particular fellow was a total mouth piece; no need to tell you how many times he swore at us on the way to the station, a seven-minute drive. Yes, I still remember the exact time.
He told me in no uncertain terms that his lawyer would rip us a new one. I told him that he would get a chance to call his lawyer when we got to the station.
No way (with some swear words thrown in), he is too expensive to be called in the middle of the night, the guy told us about six times. I remember.
At the police station I put him in front of the telephone and told him to call his lawyer. He refused to touch the phone. I dialed our Legal Aid for free legal advice. Again the fellow I arrested refused legal help.
I dialed the legal aid lawyer for him, talked to the lawyer and passed him the phone. He slammed it down without another word (not even a swear word). And then he refused to blow; another separate offence on top of drunk driving.
We went to court a few months later. And yes, the high priced lawyer was representing him. The trial was over in about two minutes after I was on the stand to testify.
Constable, did my client get a chance to speak to legal counsel? I was asked.
No, I put him in front of …………… I tried to reply.
Thank you, I dont need to hear anything else, the lawyer said. Your honour, I demand an immediate dismissal of my client. His constitutional right to legal counsel was violated by police.
End of story. Everybody went home.
And that was the last drunk driver I hauled into court before I retired seven years later.
At least I had been hauling them in for a good 15 years of my career. Unfortunately a lot of the younger generation of police officers are taking that attitude only three-four years into their career, with another good 20 years still to go in their profession.
When being drunk is the offence and being drunk can be used as a defence, what is the point?