A judge has acquitted a man of impaired driving even though he blew three times the legal limit, accepting his argument someone may have spiked his drink with a drug when he went out for a smoke.
Christopher Sitarz, 34, said Wednesday the ruling came as a relief.
“Watch your drinks. That’s all I can say.”
Sitarz was driving the wrong way on Adelaide St. W. on the night of Feb. 12, 2011, in heavy weekend traffic in Toronto’s Entertainment District.
Drivers were honking and yelling, trying to get around him.
Sitarz stopped his car in the middle of the street, so police directed traffic around him. An officer went up to the car as it inched forward, and noticed Sitarz had “a dead stare,” provincial court Justice Kathleen Caldwell wrote in her ruling.
He smelled strongly of alcohol, his eyes were bloodshot and he was unsteady on his feet.
At the police station he blew 230 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. The legal limit for driving is 80 mg.
Sitarz, a petroleum contractor, testified he had driven from Schomberg to a “Fast Life” speed dating event at a bar in the Entertainment District.
He arrived around 7 p.m. and ordered a vodka Red Bull. He said he was fairly sure he later ordered a second drink. He testified he intended to order three or four drinks, following the “one drink per hour” rule, the judge wrote.
He remembered talking to a woman at the end of the evening but felt like he had just woken up, Caldwell said. He said he remembered virtually nothing afterward.
He was due to start installation work at a gas station at 6 a.m. the next day, so he intended to keep his consumption minimal and leave at a reasonable hour, the judge wrote.
He didn’t work the next day, given his arrest, but went to a hospital emergency to ask if he could have been drugged.
Sitarz argued his voluntary consumption of alcohol was minimal, and that someone may have slipped a drug into his drink when he left the bar for a smoke.
Caldwell found in the “unique circumstances of this case” Sitarz raised a reasonable doubt that his impairment flowed from a voluntary act.
“It is reasonably plausible that a substance was slipped into his drink which so affected his cognitive abilities that his subsequent alcohol consumption was no longer voluntary,” the judge wrote.