“The last time he was before the court he received 90 days (in jail). That doesn’t appear to have slowed the accused down,” Judge Jeff Lantz said Tuesday as he sentenced Joseph Richard Bernard to seven months behind bars. “If you keep on this pattern it is only going to be a matter of time before you will either hurt or kill someone.”
Bernard was on trial in Summerside provincial court on an impaired driving charge. He pleaded guilty last week to a charge of refusing a breathalyzer, a charge that was laid only 14 days after he was allegedly caught for driving drunk. During that court appearance, he also initially pleaded guilty to the impaired driving charge but as facts were presented in court disputed he was behind the wheel, which promoted Lantz to strike Bernard’s guilty plea and set the matter down for trial.
The impaired driving charge was laid following an incident on July 17, 2012.
Crown attorney John Diamond called three witnesses — two RCMP officers who were both involved in Bernard’s arrest on July 17 and a witness who testified that he saw Bernard behind the wheel.
Const. Dwayne Pardy told the court that RCMP received an anonymous tip that Bernard was driving drunk.
A description of Bernard’s green Buick, along with his license plate number, was provided to police by the anonymous called who said Bernard allegedly almost forced them off them of Route 152.
Pardy located the Buick parked in a yard in St. Louis. No one was inside the vehicle. He found Bernard inside a shed and asked him to come out.
Pardy testified Bernard was unsteady on his feet, stumbled and appeared drunk.
The RCMP constable also said that the homeowner, when questioned, indicated Bernard drove into his driveway and had not consumed alcohol since his arrival.
The homeowner testified to that affect in court.
Const. Rene Michaels told the court that she arrived on scene when Pardy had Bernard in the back of the police cruiser.
It was Michaels who took breath samples from Bernard at the West Prince detachment. Three samples were taken — 210 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood and two 180-mg samples.
Bernard, who represented himself in court, didn’t call any witnesses or testify in his own defence.
Judge Jeff Lantz found Bernard guilty on the impaired driving charge.
Facts on the breathalyzer refusal charge were also presented.
On July 31, West Prince RCMP received another anonymous complainant that Bernard was driving drunk in his green Buick.
His vehicle was pulled over and Bernard smelled of alcohol and showed signs of impairment but refused the breathalyzer demand, telling police he was a drunk and an alcoholic.
Bernard had six prior alcohol-related driving convictions dating back to 1993. The most recent was in March 2007. His last driving suspension was for three years.
“You obviously have problems with drinking,” said Lantz. “When you get behind the wheel after drinking, that’s the real issue.”
Once his jail sentence is complete, Bernard will be on probation for 24 months, during which time he must undergo assessment, counselling and treatment for any addictions issues.