A man with five prior impaired driving convictions was handed a jail sentence of two years less a day after he refused to let police test his blood-alcohol levels on two separate occasions.
Gordon Thomas Lee Laliberte, 36, pleaded guilty this morning to two counts of refusing to provide a breath sample and two counts of driving while disqualified. Laliberte was arrested by RCMP in June after he was pulled over while driving at 156 km/h on Highway 11. Crown prosecutor Jeff Lubyk said Laliberte jumped into the back seat of his station wagon and pretended to be asleep after he was pulled over, and then denied he had been behind the wheel. He refused to provide a breath sample to police, Lubyk said, and was found to be driving while disqualified.
Laliberte was released from custody shortly after his arrest, but his freedom was short-lived. Lubyk said police were called to the Prince Albert Walmart July 30 after receiving complaints of a driver who had thrown a beer bottle from his car window and was parked in a handicapped space. When he was approached by police, Lubyk said Laliberte tried to walk away from his vehicle and had to be physically detained by the arresting officer. He refused to identify himself to police, Lubyk said, and again would not give a breath sample.
Defence lawyer Rebecca Crookshanks said Laliberte has struggled with alcohol abuse for some time. Her client pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, she said, as a sign that he wants to take responsibility for his actions.
“I’d just like to apologize for my actions and the poor choices I’ve made,” Laliberte said, and told the court he wants to put the incidents behind him.
Based on a joint proposal by the Crown and defence, Laliberte was sentenced to two years less a day, which will be served in a provincial correctional centre. He was also handed a five-year driving prohibition which will come into effect upon his release, and was fined $1,000.
Judge Robert Mackenzie warned Laliberte that he was extremely lucky to avoid a penitentiary sentence, and warned him that he will likely face federal custody if he ever drives while impaired again.
“Drinking and driving creates carnage on our roads,” Mackenzie said. “You could very well have killed someone.”
On Twitter: @TMacPhersonNews
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