A Brandon judge has rejected Crown and defence lawyers’ suggestions for a sentence for a repeat drunk driver, opting instead to impose a lengthier jail term.
Bradley Van Damme’s own daughter and son were riding in the pickup truck with him when he was pulled over — an incident that marked his fourth conviction for drinking and driving.
“This is a dangerous game you’re playing and it needs to stop today,” Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta told Van Damme in Brandon court on Monday as he pleaded guilty to driving with a blood to alcohol level over the legal limit.
On June 15, three different drivers picked up their phones to report Van Damme to police for his bad driving along the Trans-Canada Highway.
The first call was made at 5:45 p.m. A driver near Austin gave a description and licence plate number for a swerving pickup truck that had nearly hit her.
There was then a call from a motorist near MacGregor who complained that he was nearly rear-ended by a truck that matched the description from the first incident.
The third call came from a driver near the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 16 who complained that the same truck was swerving all over the road.
By 6:15 p.m., police had found the pickup, pulled it over and identified Van Damme as the driver.
Van Damme’s 15-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter were in the truck with him and tests showed that he had more than triple the legal amount of alcohol in his system.
Police were told Van Damme and his two children were travelling from Brandon to Winnipeg to visit family. Van Damme was also to take part in an intervention for his brother, who is an alcoholic.
The 41-year-old has three previous convictions for drinking and driving.
The Crown had suggested 45 days in jail for the latest offence, while defence lawyer Trent Sholdice suggested 30 days in jail.
Hewitt-Michta, however, said that neither proposed sentence was long enough.
Previous sentences — including a stint in jail — had failed to stop Van Damme, an admitted alcoholic, from drinking and driving.
Deterrence was more important than rehabilitation in this case, the judge said.
“My primary concern today is protection of the public,” said Hewitt-Michta, who sentenced Van Damme to four months in jail and banned him from driving for three years.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 24, 2012