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Impaired driver who refused cab ride 'made terrible mistake'

He recorded breathalyzer readings of 166 and 146 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
2018-05-23 Sault Ste. Marie Court House DH (1)
File photo. Sault Ste. Marie Court House. David Helwig/SooToday

James White is paying a hefty fare for opting not to take a taxi home after a night of drinking.

His decision to get behind the wheel on Dec. 11 cost him his driver's licence and $3,000 in monetary penalties when he appeared in court Tuesday.

The 46-year-old man pleaded guilty to the Criminal Code offence of operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level exceeding the legal limit (over 80).

He also was convicted of suspended driving (under the Highway Traffic Act).

"I'm very sorry for my bad choice," White told the judge. "I made a terrible mistake that night and I'm paying for it now."

Ontario Court Justice John Condon heard a patron at Wacky Wings noticed White, who appeared to be impaired, leaving the Lake Street eatery.

A bartender had asked the accused to go outside and wait for a cab, assistant Crown attorney Stuart Woods said.

The customer saw White get inside his vehicle and drive off. He called 911.

A city police officer initiated a traffic stop on MacDonald Avenue, just west of Pine Street.

She noted the odour of alcohol on the driver's breath. His eyes were watery and he was swaying.

White was arrested and taken to the police station.

He recorded breathalyzer readings of 166 and 146 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

Woods called for an elevated fine of $2,000 because of the high readings, as well as a one-year driving prohibition, for the drinking and driving offence.

He proposed a further $1,000 penalty for the HTA offence, plus a six-month concurrent licence suspension.

It looks like the bartender was trying to get him into a cab, the Crown said.

"That didn't happen. That was Mr. White's choice."

Duty counsel Darren Berlinguette said the accused is accepting responsibility for his actions and is sorry for what he did.

His father passed away earlier in the fall and White was having a hard time, the defence said.

His alcohol abuse was elevated by his loss, and he hasn't been drinking since then.

White was a suspended driver at the time because of unpaid fines, but has since paid them, Berlinguette said.

In addition to the $3,000 in fines, White also must pay a victim surcharge and court costs.

The driving prohibition "is in effect right now," Condon told him.  

 "Don't be tempted to drive," adding it "will complicate your life immensely."

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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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