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A Northern Politician Confessed, Then Pleaded Not Guilty, to a Drunk Driving Charge

Hay River Councillor Keith Dohey has officially been acquitted of a crime for which he pledged to take "full responsibility."

by Sarah Berman
May 4 2017, 12:43pm

Photo via Flickr user Jeff Wilcox

A Hay River, NWT councillor has been acquitted of a drunk driving charge two years after making a heartfelt confession on Facebook.

Councillor Keith Dohey was stopped by traffic cops for driving erratically one evening in July 2015. He blew more than twice the legal limit when tested with a breathalyzer. "I thought he was going to fall over," one of the cops later told a territorial court judge.

Weeks later, Dohey posted on Facebook that he would take full responsibility for driving drunk. "On Friday July 10th I made a terrible mistake," he wrote. "After spending the evening with friends I made the poor decision to drive home after drinking. I make no excuses for my actions. What I did was reckless, irresponsible, inconsiderate, and selfish. I of course take full responsibility for my actions. I am only thankful that no one was hurt."

Facebook screencap obtained by VICE

Dohey apologized for his behaviour, and set out to "make up for my mistake, whatever and however long that takes."

Apparently that promise wouldn't involve making the same admission to a judge. When the case went to trial this past October, he pleaded not guilty. Dohey's lawyer argued that the breathalyzer result was not admissible in court because her client wasn't given adequate access to legal counsel.

Cops testified that Dohey called a lawyer, but he did not pick up at 3 AM on a Saturday morning. Dohey was then asked if he wanted to call a 24-hour legal aid service. He declined.

Dohey's defence argued this was the same as waiving a right to a lawyer, and the cops should have said as much. A judge agreed; the breathalyzer was thrown out.

The local politician, still serving Hay River voters, was acquitted Tuesday. I'm sure he won't be the last public figure to be responsible for his actions, just not criminally responsible.

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