Nunavut MLA gets no jail time for drunk driving, evading police

Ryan Ross rross@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on July 24, 2014

David Joanasie, 31, is an MLA in Nunavut.

An MLA from Nunavut who fled the police after going the wrong way down a one-way street while driving drunk with one tire flat on his rented vehicle avoided jail time after entering guilty pleas in provincial court in Charlottetown today.

David Joanasie, 31, is the MLA for South Baffin and appeared before Chief Judge John Douglas where he pleaded guilty to failing the breathalyzer and failing to stop for the police.

In sentencing Joanasie, Douglas gave him credit for the night he spent in jail after his arrest and ordered him to pay a $1,200 fine along with $500 in victim surcharges.

Douglas also ordered Joanasie to donate $500 to a Nunavut charity that works with youth and addictions.

The court heard that on July 7 at around 11:45 p.m. someone called Charlottetown police to report a vehicle with a flat tire going the wrong way on a one-way street.

Before they saw the vehicle the police could hear it driving on the flat tire and they could smell burning.

Eventually they tried to pull Joanasie over, but he kept going and sped up to pull away from them as they travelled along University Avenue.

A few minutes later they lost sight of Joanasie’s vehicle before finding him near UPEI where he finally pulled over.

By then the front passenger tire had gone off the rim into the university’s parking lot and the vehicle was parked on the sidewalk.

Breathalyzer tests showed Joanasie’s blood alcohol level was more than double the legal limit.

Joanasie was in P.E.I. on vacation at the time.

Defence lawyer Andrew Coady said his client accepted responsibility, was embarrassed and was remorseful, but when Douglas asked if Joanasie wanted to add anything he replied that he didn’t.

“No comment,” Joanasie said.

In handing down the sentence, Douglas said it was a difficult case because Joanasie was a public servant with no criminal record and lived out of province.

Douglas said he normally would impose additional time in jail for evading the police but he didn’t in this case and instead gave Joanasie a suspended sentence with one year of probation.

Joanasie is also banned from driving for one year.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

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