Frustrated judge challenges drunk driver to become champion for change
Harbour Grace court docket filled each week with impaired driving charges, says judge
Anthony Ricketts was issued an unusual challenge by a judge at provincial court in Harbour Grace on Wednesday.
"Get the message out" about the dangers of drunk driving, Judge Bruce Short said to the 47-year-old from Upper Island Cove.
"You're very fortunate. You could have killed someone."
Judge vents his frustrations
Ricketts, making his first-ever appearance before a judge and clearly embarrassed by his actions, nodded his head in agreement, but didn't utter a word.
His driver's licence had just been stripped away for the next year — making travelling to his job in Long Harbour a lot more complicated — and he will have to pay fines totalling $2,600.
Ricketts was one of six people on the docket Wednesday facing a charge of impaired driving, a scenario Short said was "not atypical" for his courtroom.
With a packed gallery before him, including some reporters, the judge vented his frustrations about the ongong problem of drunk driving — saying he hears between 150 and 200 such cases each year.
And with police resources already stretched thin, he believes that's just a "small percentage" of those who drive while impaired.
Short asked Ricketts and others to picture the person they love most, and imagine that person being killed by an impaired driver.
He said four people are killed daily in Canada in an incident involving an impaired driver.
"We are all responsible to lower the number of impaired drivers," Short said.
Ricketts quietly left the court, but not before surrendering his driver's licence.