Intoxicated Iqaluit man had ‘care and control’ of his vehicle, judge rules
Gabriel Choquette said he was sitting in the driver’s seat, waiting for designated driver
Because an intoxicated man exercised care and control of a vehicle parked outside the Iqaluit Legion in 2018, he’s guilty of driving over the legal blood-alcohol limit, judge Paul Bychok found in a written judgment released to the public Friday.
Police had found Gabriel Choquette of Iqaluit, who was 23 at the time, sitting intoxicated in the driver’s seat of a vehicle parked outside the Legion early in the morning of Sept. 9, 2018.
Police had responded to a call at 1:24 a.m. from a Legion employee who alleged Choquette was inside a motor vehicle while intoxicated, revving the engine and honking the horn.
After police arrived, they arrested Choquette and charged him with impaired driving, driving over the legal blood-alcohol limit and breaching a bail condition prohibiting him from drinking alcohol.
But Choquette claimed he didn’t have care and control of the vehicle and was waiting for a designated driver to leave the Legion and drive him home.
So he pleaded not guilty, and the case went to trial more than two years later, on Nov. 20, 2020.
At that trial, one RCMP officer said Choquette appeared to be “highly intoxicated,” gave off a strong smell of liquor and wobbled when he struggled to stand up straight, Bychok’s verdict stated.
Another police officer said Choquette argued with him and claimed he had consumed only one beer and therefore could not be arrested. Choquette also told police he was waiting for a female friend to leave the Legion and drive him home.
This “argumentative and arrogant behaviour” continued at the police station, Bychok stated in his judgment.
The same RCMP officer also said he saw Choquette “reaching down” to the floor of the vehicle. After that, police found a set of keys on the driver’s side of the vehicle near the pedals.
Choquette at first refused to take a breathalyzer test but changed his mind later that morning at the police station.
He took two tests, one at 2:57 a.m. and another at 3:19 a.m. On each test, the analysis showed a blood-alcohol level of 190 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of Choquette’s blood.
That’s more than twice the legal limit for driving: 80 milligrams in 100 millilitres of blood.
At the start of the trial, Choquette admitted he was impaired that evening, with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit, and he admitted that he sat in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.
But he denied having care and control of the vehicle, and he denied knowing about the bail condition that prohibited him from drinking.
Those were the only issues that Bychok had to decide.
At the trial, Choquette gave evidence in his own defence, as did Kyla Gordon, the person who Choquette claimed was his designated driver.
But Bychok said he did not believe Choquette’s claims that he had not turned the vehicle on and did not know about the set of keys found on the vehicle’s floor.
“Mr. Choquette was behind the wheel with a set of keys. He had turned on the vehicle’s engine. He was highly intoxicated,” Bychok’s judgment said.
He also said he found Choquette’s evidence “self-serving and generally unbelievable.”
So he convicted Choquette on one count of driving with an illegal blood-alcohol count.
He also found Choquette knew about the bail condition forbidding him to drink and convicted him on that charge also.
Bychok did not give a date for Choquette’s sentencing.