Rob Ford to Miami cop: 'Take me to jail'

Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford says he was convicted of refusing to give a breath sample while driving in Florida 11 years ago and also faced a pot possession charge.
Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford is shown in this mugshot taken shortly after his arrest in Florida in February 1999. ((Miami-Dade Police Department))

Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford told a Miami police officer to "go ahead take me to jail" just before he was arrested in Florida 11 years ago on charges of drunk driving and marijuana possession, according to a police document.

An arrest affidavit written by a Miami-Dade police officer on Feb. 15, 1999, states that Ford's car was pulled over at 1:30 a.m. because its lights were off.

When the officer asked Ford for his licence and registration, Ford got out of the car, "threw his hands up in the air and said 'go ahead take me to jail,'" the affidavit said.

Ford also took out all of his money and threw it onto the ground, the officer wrote.

The officer noted that he could "smell a strong odour of an alcoholic beverage on his breath. His eyes were bloodshot."

Ford also appeared to be "acting nervous," and after searching him, the officer found a "marijuana joint" in his right rear pants pocket.

Speaking at a Thursday morning news conference that he called to address an article in the Toronto Sun in which he admitted to being charged with marijuana possession after the incident, Ford revealed he also pleaded guilty to refusing to give a breath sample.

"I guess I had a few drinks at [a] Valentine's dinner with my wife. And it was a mistake. I shouldn't have been driving," he said.

Ford said he was fined and had to do 50 hours of community service as a result of his plea. He fulfilled that requirement by coaching football.

He said he was arrested, booked and then released, and never had to appear in court to face the marijuana charge.

'Forgot' marijuana charge

When the Sun first asked him about the incident, he denied ever being charged. But he later backtracked after being provided with Florida state records of his arrest, saying he "completely forgot" about the episode.

Ford revealed Thursday he had pleaded guilty to failing to provide a breath sample when stopped by a police officer in Florida 11 years ago. ((Ivy Cuervo/CBC))

"When somebody discusses [the marijuana charge] with me, the first thing that pops into my head was failing to provide a breath sample," Ford said Thursday.

Polls suggest Ford is among the frontrunners in the race to replace outgoing Mayor David Miller in the Oct. 25 municipal election. The other major mayoral candidates are Coun. Joe Pantalone, former Liberal Party national director Rocco Rossi, former Ontario health minister George Smitherman and publisher Sarah Thomson.

"I am not perfect. I have never claimed to be perfect," Ford said. "I truly believe this election is not about mistakes I made 11½ years ago — by me or by any other candidate that has made mistakes. It's about today and tomorrow."

Ford said he doesn't have a criminal record, but confirmed he had been charged with criminal offences two other times. When he was 18, he was charged with assault in relation to a hockey fight, but the charge was dismissed.

In 2008, he was charged with assault and uttering a death threat against his wife. Both of those charges were later withdrawn.