Skyway Bridge crash: driver's blood-alcohol well over limit — OPP

When Sukhvinder Rai gave a breath test at a Burlington police detachment to measure the amount of alcohol in his blood, he was told by the testing officer that anything under 80 was a pass.

Driver's blood-alcohol registered more than twice legal limit, 5 hours after collision: Police

On July 31, 2014, a dump truck crashed into the superstructure of Burlington Skyway, causing $1.2 million in damages. (Hamilton Police Service)

Even though the driver who crashed his truck into the Burlington Skyway didn't get tested for alcohol in his system until five hours after the accident, he still tested at almost triple the legal limit, a Hamilton courtroom heard Wednesday.

When Sukhvinder Rai was given a breath test at a Burlington police detachment to measure the amount of alcohol in his blood, he was told by the testing officer that anything under 80 was a pass, Justice Fred Campling was told.

The 36-year-old Brampton man, accused of driving a dump truck with a raised bed into the superstructure of the Burlington Skyway earlier that day on July 31, 2014, registered a score of 226 in his first breath test. 

That's a measure of 226 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. His second breath test, taken nearly 30 minutes later registered at 220 mg. 

In Ontario, it's illegal for anyone to drive if they have more than 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of their blood. 

On Wednesday, during the sixth day of trial at an Ontario Court of Justice in Hamilton, Crown prosecutor Todd Norman showed the court a video of Rai taking these breath tests at a Burlington Police detachment, roughly five hours after the collision on the Skyway took place.

Do you know how much damage you did on the bridge?- OPP Const. Hermano Clerigo

The two tests were taken at 8:32 p.m. and just before 9 p.m. respectively. The collision on the bridge took place at 3:35 p.m.

The trial is in front of Justice Campling, no jury. Rai faces charges of impaired driving, driving over 80 mgs, dangerous driving and mischief endangering life.

He's pleaded not guilty to all charges.

'That's twice the legal limit, almost three times'

OPP Const. Hermano Clerigo was on the stand while the video was being played for the court on Wednesday.

Clerigo is the qualified breath technician who issued the breath test to Rai.

In the video the then-34-year-old Rai is seen sitting in a chair talking with Clerigo, waiting to take the breath test. 

Rai doesn't say much to the officer, and what he does say comes out in short sentences, often with gestures. 

Before the breath tests are given, Clerigo asked Rai several personal questions and let him know he doesn't have to answer if he doesn't want to. 

Among other things, Clerigo asks his for his weight, his height and if he has hit his head recently.

Rai said yes, he had hit his head while in his truck, in a collision earlier that day. In several short statements, Rai told the constable he was driving the vehicle when it crashed and that the crash happened at around 3:30 or 4 p.m. 

Much of the time he's seen holding his right arm. When Clerigo asks if he hurt his arm or shoulder, Rai answered "Yes. Shoulder, and this," pointing to his leg.

The video continues and shows Rai providing two breath samples, nearly 30 minutes apart. After the second test, Clerigo tells Rai he failed.

"That's twice the legal limit, almost three times," Clerigo said.

"Sir, please help me. My life depends." Rai is heard saying in the video after he was told he will lose his license for 90 days.

"How can I help you if you're drinking and driving?" Clerigo said. "Do you know how much damage you did on the bridge?"

Timeline for Halliday

Earlier in day, Burlington OPP Const. Andrew Halliday took the stand again for cross examination under defense attorney David Locke.

As he did Tuesday with the constable on the stand, Locke attempted to hammer out a timeline of Halliday's actions on the day of the Skyway crash.

Halliday was the officer who held Rai in the back of his cruiser for hours after the dump truck hit the bridge. He didn't demand the breath sample from Rai until 7:32 p.m., in Burlington. 

Locke suggested Halliday knew he was well beyond the three hour limit in which he was legally able to demand a breath sample from Rai, but took the sample anyway.

Halliday said he didn't realize this at the time.

The trial is scheduled to continue on Thursday.


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