RCMP officer found not guilty in drunk driving case

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surrey rcmp police patrol car crime / shutterstock

An RCMP officer who was charged with dangerous and impaired driving after an off-duty crash in West Vancouver has been found guilty of dangerous driving but not guilty of drunk driving in a North Vancouver court.

Cunha, head of the RCMP’s Lower Mainland explosives disposal unit, was driving along Highway 1 near Caulfield in West Vancouver on November 30, 2012 when he drove into the median and swerved into a ditch, lost a tire and attempted to drive away.

He was later charged with dangerous driving and impaired driving as well as driving with a blood alcohol content higher than 0.08. During his trial, the third charge relating to his blood-alcohol level was thrown out after Judge Steven Merrick ruled the blood sample was inadmissible. At the time of sampling, two hours after the accident, Cunha had a blood-alcohol level of .128.

According to the court, West Vancouver Police Constable Arman Sadari did not adequately ask if Cunha wanted to consult a lawyer, did not have reasonable grounds to request a blood sample nor did he ensure the breathalyzer was working properly.

Image: Police / Shutterstock

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As reported by the North Shore News in November 2014, the court ruled Sadari should have known Cunha’s response when asked if he wanted a lawyer – “No, not at this time” – was unequivocal and needed clarification. Judge Merrick also tossed the blood sample evidence because he believed the sample was taken “based on inaccurate and misleading information offered by Sardari.”

Sadari initially claimed in court that Cunha was slurring his words and swaying, but reversed this claim under cross-examination from defense.

West Vancouver Police Department Constable Matt Plant was the first officer on the scene and testified in court that Cunha was visible distraught, telling Plan that he was trying to kill himself because his wife cheated on him.

Cunha was suspended with pay from the B.C. RCMP after the accident in 2012. According to the RCMP, he will undergo a formal disciplinary hearing.

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Jill Slattery Jill Slattery was born and raised in Vancouver, where she also earned an Arts degree from UBC in English and Creative Writing. She is an avid TV-watcher and a shameless Taylor Swift fangirl. Jill is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. Contact her at jill@vancitybuzz.com
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