Impaired driver receives $3K fine, one-year ban
Unaware that the men in an unmarked van who were trying to pull him over were off-duty officers, the offender gave them the finger.
“The scenario that is going on on the highway at this time between these two, my client not knowing that these are police officers, is one of some sort of sick cat-and-mouse type game,” defence lawyer David Walker said in Brandon provincial court.
Jordan Nigel Phillips, 22 years old at the time, was fined $3,000 on Thursday and banned from driving for a year.
Crown attorney Rich Lonstrup said that three off-duty RCMP constables — on their way from Regina to Winnipeg for training on the afternoon of Jan. 17, 2014 — encountered a driver who was weaving all over the Trans-Canada Highway at 130 km/h near Moosomin, Sask.
The suspect vehicle, which turned out to be driven by Phillips at the time, was speeding up and slowing down, changing lanes continuously and weaving in lanes where other vehicles were present.
Phillips didn’t realize the drivers in the unmarked police vehicle were off-duty officers and believed their van had cut him off, Walker said.
With no lights or sirens on their unmarked van, the constables resorted to hand signals to try to get the driver to pull over.
Phillips responded with a hand signal of his own — he rolled down the window and gave the officers the middle finger. He then pulled into Moosomin, where he displayed strange driving by going up and down residential streets. At one point, he pulled into a gas station, but left without getting fuel.
After returning to the highway, Phillips turned down a gravel road and the constables stopped their pursuit due to safety concerns.
The constables alerted surrounding officers, but no Moosomin RCMP members were available. The nearest available officers were in Virden.
When they stopped to get gas in Virden, the off-duty constables noticed the suspect’s vehicle again, resumed their pursuit and called local RCMP, who pulled the suspect over.
At that point, a different man — also impaired — was driving. He too was arrested.
However, the constables who initially spotted the suspect vehicle were able to identify Phillips as the driver at that time.
Phillips refused to provide a breath sample, but police noted he smelled of alcohol, his speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet.
It was Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta who fined Phillips and banned him from driving.
And, Walker made a point about the driving of the off-duty constable at the wheel of the unmarked minivan that didn’t have emergency equipment, citing one of Hewitt-Michta’s own prior decisions.
The officers admitted to going 130 km/h even before they spotted Phillips’ vehicle, Walker said.
At one point, they went 180 km/h to put distance between themselves and Phillips, and Walker pointed out that Brandon judges — including Hewitt-Michta — have made notable rulings in recent cases to the effect that high speed alone, with no other bad driving, is dangerous driving.
In December, for example, Judge Donovan Dvorak sentenced a woman to community service for dangerous driving. She was going 170 km/h along the Trans-Canada Highway near Virden while driving an SUV that contained her three children. She also drove 154 km/h in a 80 km/h construction zone.
In giving a $1,500 fine and a one-year driving ban to another man, who went 185 km/h in a 100 km/h zone along a highway in the RM of Elton, Hewitt-Michta noted the shift toward laying dangerous driving charges in cases where excessive speed is the only, or primary concern.
On Friday, Lonstrup confirmed that the off-duty officers involved weren’t charged.
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