Not quite that new-car smell

31 01 2007

It’s not me, it’s the car.
That’s how a Halifax man tried to explain away the smell of alcohol detected by police after they stopped his Honda last Oct. 7.
But the officer at the window wasn’t buying James Sladen Gow’s story that he hadn’t been drinking and demanded that he take a breathalyser test.
Mr. Gow provided two breath samples that registered .210 and .190, more than twice the legal limit of .080, or 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.
The 41-year-old Falkland Street resident pleaded guilty Tuesday in Halifax provincial court to failing the breathalyser, although he said he’s still convinced the officer had no grounds to ask him for breath samples.
“The odour was coming from my car; the odour did not come from my breath,” Mr. Gow told Judge Bill Digby, who tried to keep a straight face.
Mr. Gow said the type of car he drives, a Honda Accord, is notorious for smelling of alcohol. He said he tried to get two different lawyers to argue his case but they both refused.
Crown attorney Chris Morris said officers stopped Mr. Gow’s vehicle at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street in Halifax at about 1 a.m. He said the vehicle had caught their attention because it had a headlight burned out, sat too long at a red light at the intersection of Coburg Road and Robie Street and then accelerated to 75 kilometres an hour on Spring Garden Road.
After hearing Mr. Gow insist in court that his vehicle came with an alcohol scent, the prosecutor couldn’t resist the opportunity to crack a joke.
“If the gentleman is interested in a dog-scented Hyundai, I know where he can get one at a reasonable price,” Mr. Morris told the judge.
When it came time for the judge to impose a sentence, the tone in the courtroom became serious.
“Impaired is .080. Your lowest reading was .190,” Judge Digby told Mr. Gow. “Some people at that level would be comatose.”
Mr. Gow played Russian roulette behind the wheel and was a great danger to the community, the judge said.
Mr. Gow was fined $800, plus the 15 per cent victim fine surcharge, for a total of $920, and lost his licence for a year.

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