Matthew Almeida says he made a “big mistake” when he steered his car off the road earlier this year.
“I wholeheartedly agree with you,” says Justice Deborah Austin during his court sentencing last week.
Almeida, 34, was travelling west on London Line near Brigden Road shortly after 6 pm Jan. 31. He failed to navigate the straight stretch of road and crashed his 2005 Honda Civic into the ditch.
Sarnia Fire arrived on scene and found the car resting on its side with Almeida trapped. They were able to get him out through the front windshield. Police then noticed Almeida had slurred speech, glossy eyes, smelled of alcohol and had an overall drunk demeanor. He was arrested on suspicion of impaired driving.
The suspicions were correct as Almeida registered a highly elevated blood alcohol reading of .290 back at the Sarnia Police station, more than triple the legal limit. Combined with the fact there was a crash, the Crown asked for an elevated fine of $2,400.
Defence Lawyer Nick Cake acknowledges that “when we look at readings that sit around .290 the court may, rightfully so, question what role alcohol plays in Matthew’s life.” But he says his client “does not identify himself as an alcoholic.”
“Rather he identifies himself as an individual who made a very bad choice one night while being heavily intoxicated. Alcohol doesn’t control his life, it’s not a factor in his life… He was letting off some steam unfortunately and as I’ve said and as he will tell you, made the very big mistake to drive home.”
Cake says Almeida “made some comments to the police on the night he was arrested that show insight into the situation, show insight into his knowing that what he was doing was wrong and that it was a mistake.” He argued a $2,000 penalty would be more appropriate.
“I made a mistake… I regret it,” says Almeida.
Austin landed right in the middle of the two submissions and imposed a $2,200 fine. “This was a significant event where your blood alcohol levels were not more than double, but more than triple the legal limit,” she says.
“You obviously required the response of first responders to become involved and to extract you. Thankfully you were not injured but the risk you posed to yourself and others was significant.”
Almeida also received a one year driving ban but can apply for the ignition interlock program after three months.
Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent