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Fine and driving ban for drunken highway traveller

Terrence McEachern
Northern News Services
Published Friday, September 23, 2011

A Yellowknife man driving erratically on Highway 3 while drunk was fined $1,800 and banned from driving for 18 months in territorial court, on Sept. 14.

The judge also gave the man, Ahmed Mohamed Ait, a stern warning.

"You don't want to be back before the court with another drinking and driving charge," said Judge Bernadette Schmaltz after sentencing Ait.

On June 30, an RCMP officer driving a marked police minivan west on Highway 3 noticed a Chevrolet Impala ahead of him was swerving erratically across the centre line, said Crown prosecutor Marc Lecorre.

At first, the officer assumed the reason for the swerving was to avoid bumps in the road. However, as the behaviour continued, the officer activated the lights and siren and pulled over Ait and a female passenger near kilometre marker 302 at 6:20 p.m.

When the driver rolled down the car's window, the officer noticed a strong smell of alcohol coming from him and that he had glazed, red eyes and slurred speech.

Ait exited the vehicle and took a short step, stumbling towards the police van without falling.

He told the officer he had one beer that evening and a couple of drinks of vodka the day before, said Lecorre.

At the Yellowknife detachment, Ait provided two breathalyzer samples, both registering 160 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood - twice the legal limit of 80.

Crown prosecutor Marc Lecorre cited the offender's criminal record, which contained a previous impaired driving charge in December 2004.

Defence lawyer Serge Petitpas asked that his client, a Yellowknife resident for the past 22 years, have three to four months to pay the fine. It wasn't disclosed why the man was on the highway that night. Petitpas, speaking on Ait's behalf since Ait declined to address the court, said his client knows he shouldn't have been driving. Schmaltz, however, chastised the driver for operating a motor vehicle with twice the legal limit on a highway, saying it was an "incredibly dangerous situation."

"If something doesn't get through to you that you can't drink and drive, you're going to kill someone," said Schmaltz.

Besides the fine and driving ban, the man was ordered to pay a $240 victims of crime surcharge.

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