Former TRU student fined after crashing into dentist's office in downtown Kamloops

KAMLOOPS - A man who crashed his friend's car into a downtown Kamloops building when he was an international student at TRU has been found guilty of impaired driving.

Kamloops Provincial Court judge Len Marchand said in his Jan. 19 decision that Shirish Dwivedi crashed the car of his friend, Satinderpal Gill, into the side of a dentist's office on the corner of St. Paul Street and First Avenue in April 2015.

Dwivedi and Gill escaped the early morning crash uninjured, but Marchand says various witnesses who came across the scene said Dwivedi may have been intoxicated.

A little more than two hours after the accident, Dwivedi gave two breath samples to Kamloops RCMP Const. Stephen Merrick. Marchand says both samples indicated a blood alcohol level of .13 per cent.

Dwivedi admitted to driving Gill's car, but says he wasn't intoxicated at the time of the incident. The two TRU international students, originally from India, had been returning from a party, where Dwivedi said he consumed about two drinks the night of April 11, and that his last drink was 10 minutes before the accident.

"At that time, he poured himself a fairly strong drink of two or three ounces of vodka mixed with Coke," Marchand said.

Dwivedi said he drove Gill's car because Gill was too intoxicated to drive.

"Gill testified that his car had after-market work done such that it had “very good horsepower” which gave the car “really fast acceleration”," Marchand said. "Mr. Gill agreed in cross-examination that 'if you touch the gas, the car takes off.'"

Dwivedi had a driver's licence from India, but said he had never driven in Canada, never driven a standard car and never driven Gill's car. He said he simply lost control, causing the vehicle to crash into the dentist's office.

The accident happened shortly after 6 a.m. The first witness on scene, Greg Baker, said he saw no one around the car and went to take a picture of it. Dwivedi and Gill then got out of the vehicle.

Baker said Dwivedi was stumbling and slurring and thought he was "definitely drunk" although he couldn't smell alcohol on him. But the second witness on scene said he could smell alcohol on Dwivedi's breath.

Shortly after, Const. Merrick arrived and noted an odour of alcohol coming from Dwivedi and "formed the opinion" that Dwivedi was impaired by alcohol.

"Const. Merrick read a standard breath demand to Mr. Dwivedi from a card to which Mr. Dwivedi replied 'Sir, I just had two shots,'" Marchand said. "Const. Merrick then arrested Mr. Dwivedi for impaired operation of a motor vehicle."

In cross-examination, Merrick said Dwivedi didn't fumble when producing his driver's licence and that his blood-shot eyes could have been a result from the airbag deploying or crying.

"Const. Merrick acknowledged that Mr. Dwivedi mentioned that he was a student and that Mr. Dwivedi may not have wanted police involvement because he may have to leave the country," Marchand said.

Marchand concluded that Merrick had grounds to demand a breath sample from Dwivedi and says he has no doubt about Dwivedi driving with a blood alcohol level of higher than .08 per cent.

Marchand found Dwivedi guilty of having care or control of a motor vehicle while his ability to operate the motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol and while having a concentration of alcohol in his blood which exceeded .08 per cent.

Dwivedi was fined $1,000 and given a one-year driving prohibition.

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