Alex Kurial/Local Journalism Initiative
A Dawn-Euphemia man’s misguided flight from police has netted thousands of dollars in fines and an understanding of his alcohol abuse.
Drew Bristol, 24, plead guilty to three counts during his Mar. 17 appearance, including a bizarre crash on Oil Heritage Road in October.
Bristol was driving his white 2018 Mazda erratically just before 3 pm Oct. 17 when he flew off Oil Heritage Line between Petrolia and Oil Springs. The car smashed into a ditch before coming to rest upright in a farmer’s field.
When police arrived Bristol had moved several hundred metres into the field. He lay down attempting to hide, taking his shirt off and concealing himself in some tall grass. Police dispatched a canine unit and emergency response team but the search dragged on.
After an hour, officers finally drove into the field to flush Bristol out. He started to run but was caught in a foot chase.
Bristol was taken to the Petrolia hospital to treat eye injuries. While there he registered blood alcohol readings of .160, double the legal limit.
It was his second run-in with the law. Bristol had already been arrested for drunk driving just three months before.
Anishinabek Police pulled him over after clocking a vehicle going about 160 km/h in an 80 km/h zone on Rawlings Road.
Bristol said he hadn’t been drinking but had slurred speech, slow movements and smelled of alcohol. And there was open liquor in the vehicle.
Bristol was taken to the Grand Bend OPP detachment where he blew .200 on the blood alcohol test.
Crown Attorney David Nicol asked for $5,000 in total fines, $2,000 each for the impaired charges and $1,000 for the subsequent chase reflecting “the extremely odd circumstances where it took some time for police to actually arrest Mr. Bristol.
“The seriousness of Mr. Bristol evading the police warrants a fine above the minimum,” says Nicol.
Defence Lawyer Nick Cake requested a $4,000 total punishment, saying Bristol is “insightful into why things have happened this way.”
Cake says Bristol grew up in a house where drug addictions were rampant.
“He tried to avoid drugs for so long because he didn’t want to have a criminal record, he didn’t want to lose his liberty,” says Cake.
“And ultimately his avoidance of drugs led him to alcohol, and led him down the same lines.”
Cake says his client has cut back heavily on his drinking. This was spurred in large part by a wake-up moment the night of his second arrest, when an officer made the off-hand comment that Bristol was on the same path as his family members who’ve fallen victim to addiction.
“That really stuck with him… the message really hit home that if he continues down this road he may in fact end up with lengthier criminal records,” says Cake.
“I’m really sorry for my actions. It’s a hard lesson for me to learn,” says Bristol.
“I lost my job, I lost my vehicle, I lost my licence. It’s a big bump in the road, but after I get past this I plan to keep on moving forward and never looking back, and learning from this mistake and never making it again.”
Justice Krista Leszczynski says Bristol had learned from the experience. “I’m glad to hear that you do have some significant insight into what caused you to find yourself in a situation where you made these decisions in the first place, and you have taken some active steps to address that so that you don’t make those mistakes again,” she says.
“It’s obvious that although you wanted the right thing when you made the conscious decision to stay out of drugs… that you did unfortunately go about it in the wrong way,” says Leszczynski.
Leszczynski kept Bristol’s impaired fines at $2,000 each, but reduced his other punishment to the $400 minimum for a total of $4,400 in fines. Bristol is also banned from driving for two years.