Former MADD Canada chapter president sentenced to jail time for drunk driving

Nancy MacPhee nmacphee@journalpioneer.com
Published on September 3, 2015

David Griffin walks into the Prince County Court House Thursday morning with his lawyer David Hammond prior to entering a guilty plea on an impaired driving charge. The former Summerside Police Services deputy chief was sentenced to five days behind bars.

 

©Nancy MacPhee/Journal Pioneer

A former Summerside Police Services deputy chief and local MADD chapter president was sentenced in Summerside provincial court Thursday to five days in jail after pleading guilty to driving drunk. 

David Griffin, a 39-year veteran of the Summerside force before his retirement in 2011, was caught drunk behind the wheel on June 5.

At the time, he was president of the East Prince chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

He immediately resigned from the post.

When asked by Judge Jeff Lantz what his plea was on the charge, Griffin, who stood at the defence table alongside his lawyer David Hammond, replied, in a low voice, “I plead guilty, your honour.”

Those words would be the only ones that Griffin would speak during his court appearance.

The court heard that Summerside police, acting on a citizen’s complaint, stopped Griffin at 2:13 p.m. on June 5.

Exhibiting signs of impairment, he was chartered and cautioned and given the breath demand.

Griffin provided two breath samples, both 200 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, more than double the legal limit of 80 mg per 100 ml of blood.

He was released at the time.

Griffin’s lawyer, David Hammond, said that his client, who first joined the force in 1972, had “a distinguished career” with the Summerside force, moving up the ranks to detective sergeant in 1978 and promoted to deputy chief in 1995, a position he held until his retirement in 2011.

“He was a highly trained and talented and dedicated police officer,” said Hammond, adding that when he was a Crown attorney he often “had Sgt. Griffin at my right side on many occasion” in court.

The defence attorney said the last 13 years of Griffin’s career “were very difficult,” with a “David and Goliath struggle” with the City of Summerside.

Hammond was referring to Griffin suing the city for malicious prosecution in connection with sexual-harassment charges dating back to the late 1990s, which were eventually dismissed.

“It was a taxing fight,” said Hammond. “It took a mental, physical and financial burden on the family. That in part, in a large part, led to his fall.”

It was during that time, said Griffin’s lawyer, his client’s alcohol problem began, ultimately resulting in the charge before the court.

Since his arrest, Hammond said Griffin has taken steps towards sobriety, voluntarily enrolling in a program that he began the day of his arrest and completed on Aug. 3.

“He has suffered greatly as a result of this recent brush with the law,” said the lawyer. “He has embarrassed himself and, to some extent, his family.

“He is deeply remorseful. He asked me to apologize to the community at large and his volunteer community that he took great pride in being involved in.”

In addition to his five-day jail sentence, Griffin must pay a $1,300 fine, $390 victim surcharge and is prohibited from driving for 12 months.