Central Alberta driver who “feigned unconsciousness” convicted of drunk driving charges

Faking unconsciousness to get out of an impaired driving ticket landed a Central Albertan man in hot water.

Michael Lee Benz was convicted of both impaired driving and refusing to provide a breath sample earlier this month.

He was charged in March, when Blackfalds RCMP Const. Lottie Bell spotted what she thought was a drunk driver near the intersection of 46th Avenue and Hwy 2A.

From the moment Bell arrested Benz, it was clear to the officer that Benz was belligerent and upset he was in that situation. By the time he was taken to the police station, Benz was described as flippant, agitate, angry and confrontational.

He complained about the handcuffs being too tight, refused to answer questions such as his name or date of birth. Bell said Benz had glossy eyes and rosy cheeks, he stumbled over his words, and she smelled alcohol on his breath.

Once they arrived at the police detachment, Benz belligerence streak continued.

He was taken to a room to exercise his right to retain legal counsel and given clear instruction to dial 9 for an outside phone line. After 20 minutes, Benz knocked on the door and asked why the phone wasn’t working, Bell repeated her instructions.

Later, Bell checked on Benz and saw him leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed and eyes shut. He did not respond when asked if he was done. Const. Joshua Smith assisted Bell and applied a sternum run, to stimulate pain. Benz reacted by gripping Bell’s hand.

Bell testified it was apparent Benz was feigning unconsciousness to avoid complying with her directions. She and Smith attempted to get Benz to sit up, but described all their attempts as futile.

“Const. Smith made the comment that if he was truly passed out, his head would have fallen back, because of the angle we had him, not fully seated up,” Bell testified. “Once that comment was made, the accused dropped his head back and we kind of chuckled because at that point it was confirming where we thought the faking of the passing out was.

“And the accused himself smirked.”

Later, Benz put his body down hard, but he held his head so he didn’t smack his head on the concrete. Smith added “then he smirked as he was laying there.”

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