First time offender receives heavy penalty

The hope is a much stiffer sentence for a first drunk driving conviction will be a deterrence for such behaviour in the future.

The hope is a much stiffer sentence for a first drunk driving conviction will be a deterrence for such behaviour in the future.

That was the expression of the judge when he handed down a one year driving ban to go with a nearly $2,000 fine to a man from Airdrie at Ponoka Provincial Court on Friday, Oct. 16.

Robert Hayden, 39, was stopped by sheriffs on Sept. 1 along Highway 2 heading south near the Ponoka overpass after another driver called 911 to report a vehicle swerving from lane to lane and coming close to hitting a guardrail before hitting the ditch and then getting back onto the highway.

Officers also witnessed the swerving on the road once they were able to track down the vehicle and, after getting the vehicle pulled over, noticed a significant odour of alcohol on the driver’s breath along with the slurring of his words and an expired vehicle registration.

Hayden was then taken back to the detachment, where tests found his blood alcohol level to be double (0.16) the legal limit. His defence lawyer explained that, as a result of his licence being taken that night, Hayden has already experienced numerous hardships, especially at his job as a technician in the oilfield service industry.

Before being sentenced, Hayden told the court, “I’m sorry. I made a series of terrible decisions,”

In determining the appropriate sentence, Judge Greg Lepp explained his reasoning as follows: “You being a double the legal limit combined with your driving impaired on the busiest highway in the province, putting other people at risk is very scary. However, I must also take into account your cooperation in pleading guilty at the first opportunity. I hope this sentence provides you and other members of the public a deterrent to driving after drinking alcohol in the future.”

Relapse results in fine

A 40-year-old man from the Ermineskin reserve that fell back into some bad habits resulting in his return to jail was handed a fine and probation in hopes he can get his life on track again.

Dean Wood was given a $650 fine along with 12 months probation that includes abstaining from the use or possession of alcohol after pleading guilty to one count of possession of stolen property.

Wood was taken into custody on June 27 by Ponoka RCMP after he was spotted by members on patrol banging on the doors of the arena in the early morning hours. Police would later find in his possession 26 sequential cheques from the local bottle depot that had been broken into a few hours earlier.

Wood explained he had no recollection of the evening as he relapsed into alcohol and drug use after being talked into partying with some friends he met up with during the Ponoka Stampede. His lawyer added there was no intent behind having the cheques and that his client, who hasn’t been in trouble with the law for the past five years, is on the waiting list to enter a rehabilitation program.

Judge Lepp stated during sentencing that this relapse was unfortunate and hopefully will show Wood that he needs to stay away from certain people that get him into trouble.


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