'Driving is a privilege. It is not a right': B.C. judge cracks down on man with 60 convictions
A B.C. man is facing a harsh sentence of eight months in prison, a year of house arrest and a three-year driving ban, over his latest driving charges on a list of dozens spanning 33 years.
At the sentence hearing of Dennis Dafoe in Vernon last month, Judge Jeremy Guild received a joint submission from the Crown and defence, which called for concurrent sentences of 120 days in jail, a three-year driving ban and a $1,000 fine on each of two driving offences Dafoe was charged with last year.
Guild called the proposed sentences “incredibly lenient in all the circumstances,” and pointed to Dafoe’s criminal history.
The 54-year-old has been criminally convicted 60 times between 1988 and 2021, and he’s currently banned from driving until 2034.
“These will be Mr. Dafoe’s 10th and 11th convictions for driving while disqualified,” wrote Guild.
Dafoe’s most recent charges for breaching driving prohibitions date back to 2022. On April 24, he was caught speeding in Vernon, and then Vancouver police caught Dafoe driving under the influence of alcohol on May 28.
Guild found it telling that Dafoe couldn’t provide any reason for driving in Vancouver, other than “because his niece was a victim and had been injured.”
“His reaction does nothing to explain why he felt entitled to drink and drive in Vancouver. His comments simply reinforce my view: he believes he gets to drive when he wants, and he is willing to go to jail if he is caught,” Guild wrote.
When Dafoe was caught speeding in Vernon, it had only been nine months since he’d completed a 60-day jail sentence over another driving prohibition.
“I conclude that before he drove, Mr. Dafoe knew he would go to jail for longer than 60 days if he was convicted. And before he drove again, he knew he would go to jail even longer. Jail sentences of 120 days have not and will not deter him,” the decision reads.
The judge recognized that Dafoe was not convicted of driving while prohibited in the four-and-a-half year period following a 30-month incarceration period—his longest to date.
“He has lost any credit that might be given for that gap in offending,” wrote Guild. “The sentence must be significant enough that he knows if he drives again while prohibited, even once, he will spend far longer in jail.”
Guild deemed that eight months in jail is the appropriate punishment for the Vernon offence, sentencing Dafoe to 12-months under house arrest for the Vancouver charge. A three-year driving ban will come into effect once Dafoe completes his time in prison.
“Driving is a privilege. It is not a right. He has lost that right many times. These offenses show he still does not care,” the ruling concludes.
Dafoe was recently diagnosed with cancer, “with polyps being found in the lower half of his body and in his lungs,” according to the decision.
Chemotherapy has been recommended, and Dafoe is “satisfied that he will receive adequate care within the provincial correctional system,” Guild explained.
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