Drunk driving through Enniskillen gets driver ‘perilously close’ to jail time

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Alex Kurial
Local Journalism Initiative

“You came perilously close to a jail sentence.”

Justice Deborah Austin wanted Ben Waite to know just how close he was to landing behind bars after his second drunk driving conviction.

Waite, 30, was in Sarnia Court answering for a summer incident outside Petrolia where he was driving at more than twice the legal alcohol limit.

Just before midnight Aug. 29 an OPP officer noticed a pickup truck revving loudly and breaking erratically travelling along Rokeby Line. The officer pursued the truck up Wanstead Road and onto Petrolia Line.

When the truck started alternating between the opposite lane and the shoulders the officer made a stop.

Waite, behind the wheel, said he hadn’t been drinking. But an answer of ‘Inwood Road’ when asked where he was cast doubt on this claim.

Waite was taken to Petrolia OPP and registered a blood alcohol level of .216. His truck meanwhile was moved to the impound lot, a few hundred metres from where he was pulled over.

“This is a matter where, were it not for mitigation of a very early guilty plea, the Crown would be seeking a period of custody for Mr. Waite,” says Crown Attorney Meaghan Jones.
“The most aggravating thing here is he does have a previous conviction for… drinking and driving that caused bodily harm,” she says of a 2014 conviction. “So Mr. Waite is in a situation where he knows how devastating this kind of conduct can be.

“And yet on this date, there was still drinking and alcohol and cars and the risk that causes to the community is immense,” says Jones.

Defence Lawyer Terry Brandon says her client “acknowledges alcohol has been a problem… He appears to be amenable to seeking and securing help in that area.”

Waite says he’s quit drinking alcohol since this latest incident. Brandon says maintaining sobriety is key, “because if he’s back here again, especially with this record, he will be facing potentially some significant incarceration. And I believe that’s not lost on Mr. Waite.”

In light of jail, Jones and Brandon settled on an elevated fine of $3,500, a two year driving ban and 12 months of probation where Waite must take counselling for alcohol abuse.

“That’s the portion of the sentence that goes toward rehabilitation in the hopes that there’s not going to be a point down the road where the Crown is asking for custody,” says Jones.

Waite acknowledged there can’t be a third strike. “I hope that me messing up again will be the last straw, there will never be another time,” he says.

“But for this joint submission you would be going to jail because of the aggravating circumstances,” says Austin. “Clearly the aim is to have you maintain your sobriety and eliminate the impacts for those around you and for public safety.”

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