Hay River town councillor on trial for impaired driving

The lawyer defending Hay River town councillor Keith Dohey, who is charged with drunk driving, argued Friday that police didn't follow proper procedures.

Keith Dohey's lawyer argues police didn't follow proper procedure

Town councillor Keith Dohey's impaired driving trial began Friday in Hay River. Closing arguments won't be heard until after Nov. 1. (CBC)

The lawyer defending a Hay River town councillor charged with drunk driving argued Friday that he wasn't treated fairly by the RCMP. 

Keith Dohey was charged with impaired driving in July 2015. He has pleaded not guilty and is on trial in Hay River territorial court.

Police said they noticed him driving erratically at 1:40 in the morning. A breathalyzer test showed his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

According to Const. Tyler Haley, Dohey told police he was coming from a council meeting. 

Dohey's lawyer argued the tests should not have been done because there was open alcohol in Dohey's truck. If he had been drinking just before the test was administered, that could skew the results. 

Police procedure is to wait 15 minutes after an accused has had his or her last drink before testing their breath.

She also argued that police didn't have sufficient grounds to test his sobriety, since his slow speed – reported by Haley as about 15 km/h in a 40 km/h zone – could have been to avoid potholes, and that Haley's notes do not specify how far Dohey drove at that speed. 

She later spent several minutes physically demonstrating the ambiguity of the term "stagger," which Haley reported Dohey did on his way to the police cruiser.

"I thought he was going to fall over," said Haley.

She also focused for a time on whether Dohey had or hadn't waived his right to a lawyer.

Haley testified that Dohey asked for defence lawyer Michael Hansen, who did not pick up. When Haley asked if Dohey would like another lawyer to be called, or access to a 24-hour legal aid service, Dohey declined. 

Dohey's lawyer said this amounted to him waiving his right to counsel, at which point the police would have had to read him a statement ensuring that he understood the implications of refusing a lawyer.

The court reconvenes on Nov. 1. to decide when to hold closing arguments.


Jimmy Thomson is a former reporter for CBC North.