Drunk driver avoids jail because he doesn't speak English

Ryan Ross
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Drunk driver avoids jail because he can't speak Enghlish

A man who caused a car crash while driving drunk avoided jail time because he doesn't speak English.

Angel Maria Urena Munoz, 60, appeared with a translator before Judge John Douglas in provincial court in Charlottetown where he pleaded guilty to failing the breathalyzer.

The court heard that on Jan. 9, a witness saw what appeared to be Urena Munoz's 2011 Toyota Corolla hitting a pole.

Urena Munoz backed up and almost hit the witness's car before he swerved into the wrong lane and ran into a vehicle driving in the opposite direction.

Two breathalyzer samples taken later showed his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit and went up between samples.

The accident caused $1,113.12 in damage to the victim's vehicle.

In deciding on a penalty, Douglas said the usual sentence in P.E.I. for a first drunk driving offence is one to three days in jail.

Douglas said in light of language problems that would arise at the Provincial Correctional Centre he decided not to sentence Urena Munoz to jail time.

He added it wasn't an invitation for others to plead ignorance of English to avoid jail time.

Douglas fined Urena Munoz $1,200 and ordered him to pay a $360 victim surcharge.

Urena Munoz is banned from driving for one year and will be on probation for six months.

Douglas also ordered him to pay $1,113.12 in restitution.

Organizations: Provincial Correctional Centre

Geographic location: Charlottetown, P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • WTF
    February 27, 2016 - 20:07


  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    February 27, 2016 - 18:11

    What about house arrest or maybe they don't speak the same language at home ..lol

  • A little perspective
    February 27, 2016 - 10:12

    A little perspective here people....Under Canadian law, this guy would have to be able to have a reasonable amount of communication within the jail system. These are our laws--they make sense and we want to keep a minimal standard of human decency within our justice system. This does not mean he cannot be sent to jail---people who do not speak English or French go to jail all the time. However, it would be on the taxpayer's dime to foot the bill. The judge is saying it isn't worth the money to have a translation service paid for to put dude in jail for a few days. Is it fair? Maybe, maybe not. But really, will a few days in jail curb the behaviour? No, probably not. If he's someone who is going to learn his lesson, he will learn it through the fine and the experience. If he isn't going to learn his lesson, a few days in jail won't stop him.

    • Cromwell
      February 28, 2016 - 06:59

      'Under Canadian law, this guy would have to be able to have a reasonable amount of communication within the jail system. These are our laws--they make sense and we want to keep a minimal standard of human decency within our justice system' I can find no reference in an reference on Canadian Law to requiring 'a reasonable amount of communication within the jail system' - perhaps you can provide the source of your comment. The argument of the other posters is that Mr. Munoz, likely acting on the advice of others, has claimed to be unable to communicate, to any degree, in either English or French, and this cannot be the case, otherwise he would not be able to survive the rigours of everyday life on PEI. At the same time that Judge Douglas made his two incredible judgements on drink-driving cases, Judge Orr sentenced two drivers, with much lower levels of blood alcohol levels to jail time as well as fines. Will these two drivers 'learn their lesson', and you put it? Do they have to use the special licence plate that indicates to Police that they have served time for DUI? PEI has a serious problem with drivers who consume excessive amounts of alcohol, and the actions of Judge Douglas will do little to curb this.

  • James Currie
    February 27, 2016 - 08:11

    Our PEI courts Judges are bias to immagrants.Remove them all and appoint a few average , fair citizens.

  • Blue Shank Skank
    February 27, 2016 - 07:51

    Omg I cannot believe this. He should get his jail time like everyone else. He obviously is surviving on all levels with his language barrier! This is unbelievable!

  • Joe Doe
    February 27, 2016 - 00:43


  • aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand you're done
    February 26, 2016 - 20:37

    Time for Mr. Douglas to call it quits.

  • KarenPeters
    February 26, 2016 - 18:37

    This judge is so wrong on so many levels the driver knew how to buy alcohol get a license register a vehicle there must of been understanding English somewhere time for you to retire Mr judge if you can't do your job get out I would hope my tax paying dollars deserve more than this. I lost my sister to a impaired driver and injured her husband bad it is the hands of you and other judges to make a difference,I know we were told you have to go by the constitution and other cases bull,make an example here, something has to happen soon WAKE UP PEOPLE make a change that guy would of had time in jail to meditate to himself if nothing else maybe he would figure it out DONE DRINK AND DRIVE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rockin robin
    February 26, 2016 - 18:12

    Well, well well. He can't go to jail cause he doesn't want to play the English game. Mr judge, how does this lad read and understand our road signs. How does he buy his groceries or pay his bills . Hmmmmmm. Heck, how does he survive. I will tell you what Mr judge. The next time you get one of those idiots that drink and drive and can't speak English, you give me a call. I will volunteer to help him learn the language when he's in the crow bar hotel! We as voters should hang our heads in shame for electing the people we have put in power to protect us and lead us.

  • Sean
    February 26, 2016 - 17:16

    Lol. Me no speak English judge. Can I go home now?

  • Paula Coyle
    February 26, 2016 - 16:01

    He knew enough English to get and pay for his liquor, how did he get his drivers license ??? Why does he need to know English to sit in jail ?? Too many unanswered questions to figure out how the judge came to this decision... wow !!

  • Island Born
    February 26, 2016 - 15:48


  • Appeal
    February 26, 2016 - 15:15

    This ruling by Judge Douglas is wrong. Everyone in these cases shoould be treated the same. This man was twice the limit of alcohol and since thats over 160 reading he should of got five days, large fine, surcharge and suspension depending on if this was his first offence. We read everyday about people getting 1 to five days in jail depending on their reading. This NO jail time flies in the face the Charter. Case should be appealed. How does the next guy get jail time and this guy walk free of incarceration. There cannot to a double standard. This sentence may have a big impact on what Police Agencies have been fighting so hard for. This must be appealed or there will be alot more driving Impaired since all they pay is a fine. WHO OVERSEES THESE JUDGES DECISIONS?

  • Jim
    February 26, 2016 - 14:55

    This is really sad . Don`t need much education to be a Judge on PEI

  • Joe Doe
    February 26, 2016 - 13:15


  • Cromwell
    February 26, 2016 - 12:50

    This miscarriage of justice reminds me of a similar case in Toronto when the defendant, entirely on the advice of his lawyer, falsely indicated he didn't speak English - the sitting Judge the the case out of court. In this case, Mr. Munoz must speak some English, since he had to get a driver's license, insurance, vehicle registration, and likely has a job as a TFW. What will now happen if Mr. Munoz can't afford the $2,800 fine? Judge Douglas continues to defy logic and re-write the law according to his own particular, and peculiar, whims.

  • Quiet Observer
    February 26, 2016 - 11:15

    Preferential treatment to one person equates to to discrimination against everyone else. So what if his language issue could cause problems? He survives every day in Charlottetown just fine, so why would jail present a problem? Do the crime, do the time. Speaking of time, time for Douglas to retire .

  • olddog70
    February 26, 2016 - 10:36

    WOW, I mean wow. Is this judge for real, now we have different rules of different people. As much as he says this is a one time case he must know the optics are horrible and no doubt will be challenged. Not speaking English is not a right to be stupid and maybe the time in jail would have be a real factor in giving this person the clue what they did was wrong. What happens if they re offend? What then? Wrong on so many levels.

    • don
      February 26, 2016 - 18:49

      now what if the next time this drunk goes out and he will as he got a get out of jil card thanks to the want to be judge. now judge what if the next time he murders a child while drunk driving he will say the same thing he does not speak english. please judge retire before we get some isis members on PEI then i am sure you will have them stay at a 5 star hotel. i have found that judge Orr is the best judge on pei.

  • don
    February 26, 2016 - 09:51

    i can see there will be more of this in courts. how did he get his licence if he can not speak english? how does he go shopping etc. i think the judge was lied to?? leave it to this judge to let a drunk of free. what happens next time if he kills a person while drunk? i would like to have this news paper dig deeper into this story as i feel it missing a lot

  • Sean
    February 26, 2016 - 09:46

    Wow...I should get him to rob a bank for me.

  • Islander
    February 26, 2016 - 09:20

    Evan the Judge does not know the law, first offence on PEI is one to five days depending on your breath reading. 160 and over is a five day sentence. Another BS sentence, totally against the Charter, why should evryone else pay the crime and this guys skips jail time.

  • TODD
    February 26, 2016 - 08:57

    lolololooooooooooooooooooooooollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll HOW ABOUT 300 HOURS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE

  • fred smith
    February 26, 2016 - 08:53

    I wonder how many ppl stopped now drinking and driving will speak Spanish now, lol, what a joke with justice system, no wonder so many drivers are driving drunk, get away with jail time..

  • Peter Johnsson
    February 26, 2016 - 08:20

    If he can't speak english, can he read and write english? If not, how'd he get a drivers license?

  • WoW
    February 26, 2016 - 08:10

    Another fine sentence by this Judge ??

  • lloyd
    February 26, 2016 - 07:33

    What kind of nonsense is that? What about all the newcomers that don,t speak English? I never heard of such a stupid ruling.

  • Bryan
    February 26, 2016 - 07:26

    Pardon? Je ne parle pas l'Anglais. Can someone please read this story to me...

  • gerard arsenault
    February 26, 2016 - 07:13

    that's a new one

  • Matt
    February 26, 2016 - 07:02

    So now the laws are changing for immigrants. This is a slippery slope.