Former high sheriff guilty of driving with blood-alcohol over the limit

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— Justice

John Patrick McDonald, former high sheriff of Newfoundland and Labrador, has been found guilty of driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit.

Judge Lois Skanes delivered her verdict this morning in provincial court in St. John’s, finding McDonald guilty of operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level greater than 80 mg in 100 ml of blood. A charge of operating a vehicle while impaired was stayed.

In her decision, Skanes rejected McDonald’s testimony of how much alcohol he consumed in the night of his arrest — he was arrested in the early morning of Jan. 4 — concluding that it was not consistent with the level of alcohol found in his blood when police gave him a breathalyzer test.

Skanes also rejected the testimony of Dr. John Weber, an associate professor at Memorial University’s School of Pharmacy, who testified in January that McDonald most likely — taking into consideration factors like his age, weight and sex — had a blood-alcohol level between 40 and 70 mg in 100 ml of blood.

McDonald will be sentenced Monday.

Organizations: School of Pharmacy

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Harry Jims
    March 10, 2013 - 18:33

    This person committe a crime in your community. I read his story about drinking and driving; and none of his rights were taken away from him. He did the crime and now he got to do the time. I am amaze what lenths people will go to make the general public go to make us beleive that they didn't do anything. The main thing about this story is that he didn't hurt any other person in the community. Think what happen in Goose Bay in the early 1990 when a drunk drive kill a 15 year old girl.

  • gord
    March 09, 2013 - 20:58

    If he is "former" sheriff why is it in this story! It should just be his name only!

  • TRE
    March 08, 2013 - 22:41

    "Skanes also rejected the testimony of Dr. John Weber" So now a judge knows more than a doctor????? I can see an appeal.

  • pal
    March 08, 2013 - 18:16

    charges of 'impaired' and 'above 80mg per 100ml' are different charges, the latter being worse, therefore they stayed the impaired charge

  • Joel
    March 08, 2013 - 16:39

    They are two different charges. There is Operation/Care and Control over 80 and Impaired operation/Impaired Care and control. When facing an over 80 charge, an Impaired charge is usually added on as kind of a fall back in case the over 80 charge is dismissed. You can then present grounds to charge the accused with "Impaired" which has no scientific backing like the breath/blood results. The sentencing for each charge is the same. Mr McDonald was found guilty of the over 80 charge, so the Impaired charge is dropped as it's not needed, and you can't be charged with both over 80 and Impaired.

  • Mary
    March 08, 2013 - 15:17

    I don't think the impaired driving charge was dropped,I think they could still come after him for it, I don't think stayed means dropped, it seems more like it was set aside.?????.I'd like someone to explain it.

    • CJ Hall
      July 22, 2014 - 15:11

      A rule from the Supreme Court of Canada in the case Regina v. Kienapple (1975) prevents multiple convictions where there is a sufficient factual nexus between the charges and legal nexus between the offences. If convicted of the over 80 offence, the Kienapple rule prevents a conviction for the impaired charge. The impaired charge is judicially stayed by the Court, which is tantamount to an acquittal.

  • Whaddaya At
    March 08, 2013 - 12:30

    Mr. McDonald was convicted of driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, but the charge of operating a motor vehicle while impaired was dropped ?. Huh ?. If his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit , confirming he was legally impaired, why was the charge of operating a motor vehicle while impaired, dropped ?. Unless there's something left out here, this makes no sense.

    • JP
      March 08, 2013 - 18:34

      Thankfully WHADDAYA AT hasn't had any experience being charged with Impaired Driving offences. Police will almost always charge a person with two separate charges: Impaired Driving(Referred to as Straight Impaired) and Operate Motor Vehicle With Blood Alcohol Over Legal Limit. HOWEVER, if convicted on one of these charges, the other is dropped. This is routine, and Mr. McDonald wasn't given any special treatment, thankfully. To be convicted of both would be akin to being convicted twice for the same offence.

    • Foghorn Leghorn
      March 09, 2013 - 08:40

      The impaired driving charge and failing the breathalyzer are more or less the same offence. They carry the same punishment in the Criminal Code. Both charges are laid, once a conviction is registered for one or the other, the remaining charge is dropped. If for some reason you can't get a conviction for failing the breathalyzer, if there is enough remaining evidence the crown can proceed with the impaired driving charge.

  • Nate
    March 08, 2013 - 12:05

    So what was wrong with the blood evidence?