Cleared in court, but not cleared to drive: Carmanville man wants licence back

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Cleared in court, but not cleared to drive: Carmanville man wants licence back

Dennis Ellsworth fought the law and won — he just hasn't found a way to beat motor registration. 

On Dec. 17, 2015, an RCMP officer charged Ellsworth under the Criminal Code with failing to provide breath samples and issued a seven-day driving suspension under the Highway Traffic act. 

Ellsworth fought the criminal charge in court last summer where a judge found him not guilty.

"So can I drive now?" Ellsworth asked the judge, as court was dismissed.

"You can drive," the judge replied. But it wasn't that easy.

No licence, no job

When Ellsworth went to the Motor Registration Division office in Gander, he was told he had to pay a reinstatement fee and complete an alcohol education course to get his licence back. 

"I can't do it," said Ellsworth. "It was wrongfully took from me — so give it back to me."

Ellsworth said without his licence he can't work. He's been unemployed since he was charged two years ago.

The roadside stop happened just after Ellsworth left his home in Carmanville. The RCMP officer who pulled him over wanted to know if he'd been drinking.  

"He asks me to take a breathalyzer and I did," said Ellsworth. 

Ellsworth attempted to provide a breathalyzer five times but each attempt failed to register a sample.

"He said I wasn't doing it right. I told him at the time I had lung problems and I was into the doctor and all that stuff," Ellsworth said. 

"I wanted to go to the hospital to have a blood sample done."

Foot chase

The officer refused and placed him under arrest.

Ellsworth said the Mountie was forceful and he felt threatened.

He said the officer hit him after he punched and kicked the partition window in the police car. He broke the window and ran away on foot.  

"Made a run for it," said Ellsworth. "Next thing I was being tasered."

"When I came to he had the cuffs on me and told me not to move." He said he flinched and the officer tasered him a second time.

"Not a very good feeling. I think I would have rather been shot by the gun."

Complicated case

Ellsworth represented himself in court to fight the breathalyzer charge.

He admitted there was alcohol in the vehicle when he was pulled over, but he was not charged with having open alcohol in the vehicle. 

"I … accept that he did make numerous attempts to provide sample of his breath," said Judge Jacqueline Jenkins in finding him not guilty.

"But I also accept at the time of the incident the accused was suffering from some illness which resulted in the failure or certainly contributed in the failure to provide the sample."

She advised Ellsworth to straighten up his life, saying he could have been killed.

"I know that on that particular night you didn't value your life very much, but you have a child," said Jenkins.

Suspension under Highway Traffic Act

Service NL has sent Ellsworth a letter saying that his licence remains suspended under the Highway Traffic Act, separate from the criminal charges.

"You were acquitted of the Criminal Code of Canada charge for this offence, however, the administrative suspension under the Highway Traffic Act is still in effect," reads the letter sent to Ellsworth from the manager of driver records. 

Ellsworth said he's called politicians across the province for help but hasn't had any movement on his file.

He said he won't stop fighting until he gets his licence. 

"I won my case. I went in and proved my innocence," said Ellsworth. "Just give me back my licence."