Even though he tested at more than twice the legal limit, a Dubuc man has been acquitted of drunk driving by convincing the judge he got drunk after crashing.
According to court documents, Jesse Burnett was on his motorcycle in the Qu’Appelle Valley, taking a dozen beers to a friend on the night of Sept. 27, 2017. Burnett told court he saw a moose in the road, swerved to avoid it and ended up going into the ditch.
He broke his leg in the crash and, at his request, a person who stopped to help him took Burnett home instead of to the hospital. A friend of Burnett’s took him to the hospital in Esterhazy where an RCMP officer found him about three hours later.
The officer ordered a blood alcohol test and it came back at 0.211 – the legal limit is 0.08.
Burnett was subsequently charged with driving while over 0.08 and impaired driving.
During his testimony, Burnett admitted to having a previous conviction for drunk driving and referred to himself as an alcoholic.
In court, Burnett acknowledged that he was driving an unregistered motorcycle, having pleaded guilty to a traffic charge to that effect. He said on that night, after some vehicle trouble – he’d almost run out of gas and had to get a friend to bring him a jerrycan – he never made it to the friend’s house and turned back to go home.
Burnett said, after crashing, he lay in the ditch for a while and drank two beers out of his backpack. When he got home and was waiting to go to the hospital he drank another two beers. Finally, Burnett testified that he “slammed” three more beers on the way to the hospital, about 28 kilometres from his home.
Several witnesses testified to backup parts of Burnett’s story.
A toxicology expert testified in court and said that, calculating backward from the blood alcohol level and taking into considering the seven beers Burnett said he drank after the crash, Burnett’s blood alcohol would have been below 0.02 at the time of the crash.
The Crown lawyer argued that Burnett’s recollections weren’t believable and that the witnesses were Burnett’s friends and were trying to help him out.
But the judge disagreed, saying he believed Burnett’s testimony and had reasonable doubts about his guilt. So, Burnett was found not guilty of both drunk driving charges.