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B.C. man tries to appeal driving ban by claiming his designated driver crashed his Mercedes, fled the scene

An officer holds a breathalyzer device in this file photo. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck) An officer holds a breathalyzer device in this file photo. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)
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B.C.'s Supreme Court has upheld a 90-day driving ban for a man who refused to give a breath sample after crashing his Mercedes into a ditch – rejecting his claim that an "unnamed designated driver" was behind the wheel and fled the scene.

Sukhdeep Bains was appealing a decision by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles that upheld the roadside prohibition, citing, in part, issues with the credibility and reliability of his evidence.

"I do not accept that it was anyone other than you who was driving your vehicle," that decision is quoted as saying in the Nov. 29 ruling on the appeal.

The incident unfolded around 11 p.m. on July 31, 2022, according to a decision posted online Thursday. An off-duty RCMP officer, referred to only as Const. Zwicker in the decision, said he saw Bains getting out of the driver's side of the luxury vehicle after hearing a loud crash.

Zwicker also said he called the police, and said he stayed with Bains until officers arrived.

"During an initial discussion with the officers, the petitioner had difficulty standing, and was swaying. When asked if he had anything to drink, the petitioner denied that he had been drinking. The petitioner declined to give his name to the officers. The petitioner said he did not have a B.C. driver’s licence, though a B.C. driver’s licence in his name was found in his wallet," the decision says, adding that the officers also said they smelled alcohol on Bains' breath.

Bains argued that the adjudicator who upheld the driving ban made an unreasonable decision when disregarding his evidence that he was not driving the car when it crashed.

Bains told the adjudicator he met the "unnamed designated driver" at a party and accepted a ride home in his Mercedes along with several others. But he apparently could not or would not offer any additional details to corroborate his account.

"[O]ther than simply saying that you accepted this person’s offer to drive your vehicle, you have not identified the event you were at, provided the location of the event that you were at, identified who this individual was, or provided any corroborating evidence to support that you had a designated driver," judge quotes that decision is quoted as saying.

Notably, the adjudicator said the designated driver was never mentioned at the scene.

Bains also asked the judge to find that the adjudicator made a mistake by "preferring" the off-duty officer's evidence – saying that Zwicker did not actually witness the crash but only its aftermath. He told the adjudicator he had a plausible, alternative explanation for why he was seen getting out of the driver's side door – saying he was in the back seat when the car crashed but needed to get his cellphone from the centre console.

But the lack of detail he provided called that version of events into question.

"You have not said what time the accident occurred, what time the alleged designated driver fled the scene, what time the witness arrived, if you were in the driver’s seat when the witness arrived, if you were waiting outside your vehicle when the witness arrived, or said how much time had elapsed from when the accident occurred to when the witness arrived on scene,” the adjudicator's decision said.

The initial review of the case also found that Bains had been "untruthful" at the road side when he was asked if he had been drinking, which cast doubts on his truthfulness more generally.

Justice Ardith Walpetko We’dalks Walkem upheld the 90-day ban saying the decision was reasonable and justified in the circumstances and based on a thorough consideration of the evidence – including an assessment of Bains' credibility.

"The petitioner has not established that the adjudicator’s refusal to revoke the Immediate Roadside Prohibition should be interfered with," the decision concludes. 

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