Drunk driving pain in neck for Island man

Nigel Armstrong
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Prince Edward Island provincial court

Drinking and driving is literally a pain in the neck for Danny Thomas Howatt.

He was in provincial court recently before judge Nancy Orr, wearing a neck brace and pleading guilty to drinking and driving on Oct. 19, 2013.

On that day police found him lying on his back on the pavement of the Trans-Canada highway in Cornwall, with firefighters holding his head and wreckage all around.

Just after 11 a.m. he had struck a Toyota Matrix ahead of him, driving it into the ditch.

The driver of that vehicle suffered a sore neck and a scratch on her face, the court was told by Crown prosecutor Jeff MacDonald.

Howatt, 50, was taken to the QEH by ambulance with a police officer on board. Police smelled alcohol around him at the accident scene, said MacDonald.

While in hospital it was determined that Howatt could not give a breath sample so a blood sample was taken from him and sent to an RCMP lab for analysis.

It later came back that at the time of the sample, his blood alcohol level was 220 but at the time of the accident it was likely somewhere between 189 and 226. The legal limit is 80.

Howatt was later transported to a Moncton hospital for an MRI scan.

“You are still suffering from it?” asked Orr of the accident, looking at Howatt in court with the neck brace.

“I have a bruised spinal cord,” said Howatt. “I won’t be making that mistake again.”

Orr said he was lucky to be able to come to court and hear “the sermon,” knowing that such accidents involving impairment can cause much worse injury or death, even to innocent victims.

“I feel quite fortunate, despite (the fact) it doesn’t look like it,” said Howatt.

He had one prior drinking and driving conviction in 1988 so his sentence this time is 15 days in jail, a fine of $1,500, a payment to the victims of crime fund of $450 and one year ban on driving.



Organizations: TransCanada, RCMP, Moncton hospital

Geographic location: Cornwall

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Recent comments

  • The Brother
    March 08, 2014 - 20:31

    Dear Drunk Driver who Hit the Vehicle my Sister Was driving on Oct. 19, 2013. I won’t pretend to know what you were thinking when you slammed into the back of that Mazda and then careened into a light pole. I don’t think I can wrap my head around the decision to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while drunk, drinking or even only “just had a few.” There is no excuse: You were in the wrong. Now that we all understand that you were in the wrong, I feel the need to tell you a few things about the woman you endangered with your bad decision. She is, hands down, the most amazing Sister a Brother could have. She is a devoted mother and, a hands-on Mommy, she makes me very proud to be her brother …she is a faithful believer, and very dedicated to her family. Her son loves her to the moon and back. About eighty bagillion times. There is no one as amazing as her. I mean, what little boy doesn’t want his mother to play Tomas the train for hours ? She is a super hero in his eyes. She can swing a light saber with the best of them, she’s patient when teaching him how to play, how to kick a soccer ball. He would be lost without her. There are other people, removed from the obvious people like her man …….her mom and dad and sister (My wife) and grandparents, who would be heartbroken without her. My daughters & my parents, and all of our family. Do you know what frustrates me most, Mr. Drunk Driver? I know nothing about you. The news media in Charlottetown seems to focus on the drunk driver and paint this accident as a poor me story and nothing was said about the injuries and the way it has affected her life. I hope you can find it in your heart to pray for her and that she doesn’t live her life in pain from the injuries that you have cause from your selfish decision to drive while under the influence of alcohol .I can only say a prayer for you, that maybe, God willing, the next time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, you will think twice about those “just a few beers” that you have had. So that maybe you won’t put that car in drive. So that maybe you’ll think about families and fathers and mothers and children and sons and daughters and friends and co-workers and random acquaintances that would be devastated by the loss of one of their own. Maybe you’re a great guy, Mr. Drunk Driver. Maybe you made one bad choice in the middle of a lifetime of great choices. Maybe you feel such remorse that it will never, ever happen again. I hope so. I hope no Brother Sister Mother Father Husband children and sons and daughters and friends and co-workers go through this— the unthinkable, the unmentionable. I am thankful that my sister is okay. I am still praying every day that she doesn’t have any injuries or complications from that night. I spent most of yesterday praying after reading the article thanking God that she is still her in our lives. Our family didn’t need this near tragedy to open our eyes to show us what an amazing woman she is. We have always known that; I didn’t need your help.

  • Sean D
    March 08, 2014 - 09:43

    Who cares about his neck? Second offends. How about the person who's car he hit? I know them. They're without their car since it happened and the driver, a mother, could have been killed let alone the back injury she suffered. He got a slap on the wrist.

  • lolly
    March 08, 2014 - 08:36

    I just hope you aren't in his way next time he decides to drink at least double the legal limit and slam into the back of your car at full speed. spinning your car completely around, into a ditch and finally hitting a telephone pole and cracking it. Pole is still cracked in front of the Esso in Cornwall if you need proof of the severity of this crash. There were no skid marks from his car because he did not even put on the brakes. I am angry at the tone of this article. Also it was 11 pm. I am sorry he is still suffering, so am I. My life has changed.

  • watermelon
    March 08, 2014 - 08:24

    Drinking and driving is a pain in HIS neck?? That's incredibly offensive. Why would you even write that? Why would you frame the GUILTY party as the victim? There is a real victim here, the young mother who could have been killed. Have some class, Guardian.

  • Islander
    March 07, 2014 - 10:41

    (1998 ) meant 1988

  • Islander
    March 07, 2014 - 08:33

    I do not agree with drinking and driving but when I read this column it says he had an impaired driving conviction in 1998 that is 26 years ago not just yesterday like some of the cases that appear before the courts. He has done wrong and yes because of his decision to drink and drive could have caused this woman her life or others but it did not happen and lets hope he has learned from this and will think twice before ever doing it again I know everyone will jump on this but believe it or not there is a few who do learn from their mistakes and lets hope he will be one of those who choice to do so because he has been given a second chance if he realizes it or not. Lets hope he is smart enough to know it.

    • Seriously
      March 08, 2014 - 09:33

      Maybe next time he'll hit you and then we'll see how you feel about it. The fact that you would defend him is disgusting. What about the woman he could have killed?? He deserves to be locked up. Period. Defending a criminal? How pathetic on your part. Would you feel differently if that lady had died?? Or would you still be of the opinion that this poor poor drink driver deserves a second chance? If you drive intoxicated you can kill someone. That's common knowledge. There is no second chance. You should know better the first time. Too bad he made it out if this...

  • DebmacD
    March 07, 2014 - 06:55

    $1500 fine...15 days in jail likely less...wow!! Too bad that lady got in his way or he would still be out there drinking and driving! Lucky the ladies baby was home with Grandma!!

  • don
    March 06, 2014 - 21:44

    this is a april fools joke. 15 days in jail, a fine of $1,500.00 why not give him a case of beer and a room at the holman hotel. this government will not start till one of there own is in a wheel chair or a pine box then they will stat forcing these drunk off the roads. i bet if he had killed the lady he would get 10 days.

  • Reginald O'Malley
    Reginald O'Malley
    March 06, 2014 - 17:03

    If 15 days in jail and 1 year driving ban is the maximum sentence allowable for a repeat impaired driver, shame on us. If it's NOT the maximum sentence, shame on the judge. The next time I hear "we're getting tough on impaired drivers now" with super expensive and ineffective ignition locks, I may vomit. What do people have against jail? Has almost killing someone in his SECOND impaired case not stirred any interest, however vague, that we should maybe forcibly remove this person from the roads? If anyone thinks this guy's going to be sober and not drive for the next year, you're as naïve as this court. We're sheep among wolves.

    • don
      March 07, 2014 - 06:31

      it boils down to money the more this guy and others drink the more profit for wes and the fines again profit. a life means nothing because wes get the HST on the death. again till someone in the liberal members are seriously hurt or killed nothing will happen. so i figure it this way if you add profit against a life = profit wins and ghiz is proving it. i still challenge ghiz , wes to go out with ems on long weekends anmd see what drunks cause and the body's being torn up. and have them go with the police to the homes of the dead islanders o tell them that someone they loved is dead. ghiz,wes have you the back bone to do it and prove to islanders you were out?

  • Doug
    March 06, 2014 - 16:35

    A pain in the neck for him,? a pain in the butt for us victims !!!!