Saskatchewan Roughrider Charleston Hughes offered an apology on Wednesday after admitting to being in care and control of a vehicle while impaired.
“It’s embarrassing to the team, my family and my fans,” he told the court. “My reputation is everything.”
The 35-year-old defensive lineman was initially facing two charges going into Wednesday’s court appearance: care and control and refusal to provide a breath sample. After he pleaded guilty to the first, Crown prosecutor Luke Coupal stayed the second.
Coupal said the incident came to light at about 2 a.m. on Oct. 11, when two passersby alerted police to a driver who appeared to be passed out behind the wheel of a black truck on the side of Ring Road near the Albert Street overpass.
One of the complainants, a tow truck driver, said the vehicle still appeared to be in drive. He told police he rapped on the window to try to awaken the driver, but got no response.
“When police arrived on scene … (Hughes) was in the driver’s seat, his head was down to his chest and he did appear to be slumped over and not responding to the officers knocking on the door,” Coupal said. “Several attempts were made to wake him.”
Coupal said officers had to steady Hughes when he did come out of the vehicle, and police observed signs and symptoms of impairment, such as a strong odour of alcohol and bloodshot eyes.
Hughes, who had no previous record, received the minimum sentence that existed at the time of his arrest, a $1,000 fine and a one-year driving prohibition.
Defence lawyer Matt Schmeling said his client was not seen to be driving erratically, and was cordial and respectful with police during his arrest.
Schmeling noted the sentence will not impact his client’s immigration status.
Hughes, a native of Michigan, is married with two children and has a degree in business management, Schmeling said. He added Hughes has been a member of the Canadian Football League for 11 years and is heavily involved in the community, lending his help to organizations like the YWCA and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, raising money for autism initiatives, and visiting various schools, among other work.
“He’s indicated to me that this has had a profound effect on him,” Schmeling said. “He’s had to explain the situation to his employer and, most difficultly, he’s had to explain the situation to his wife and his children. He accepts responsibility. It’s something that he indicates to me will never happen again.”
Judge Anna Crugnale-Reid spoke to Hughes about the dangers of impaired driving.
“I’m sure you’re aware of that …,” she said. “I’m sure that this is an aberration and that it won’t happen again.”
Hughes apologized shortly after his arrest and was deactivated for one game by the team.
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