A 71-year-old man has been jailed for five months after his fourth impaired driving conviction in nine years.
Court heard on Friday that Allen Barthel of Red Deer blew more than three times the legal limit when he was arrested for impaired driving at the scene of a minor collision in a Red Deer residential area on the evening of April 20.
Represented by defence counsel Molly McVey, Barthel pleaded guilty before Judge John Holmes in Red Deer provincial court to driving while over the legal limit, driving while prohibited and breaching probation.
Crown prosecutor Ann MacDonald said in relating the facts that Red Deer City RCMP were called to investigate reports of a pickup truck striking a parked vehicle head on.
The truck’s driver was sleepy, lacked co-ordination and was unable to operate the locks or windows to communicate with the police officer. Barthel was taken to the detachment, where the lower of two breath samples registered a blood alcohol content of .26. The legal limit is .08.
MacDonald cited a history of impaired driving convictions starting in 2005 and including a 2013 conviction for which Barthel was still serving probation at the time of his arrest.
McVey said her client describes himself as a binge drinker who is taking counselling and seeking treatment for alcoholism.
On the night of his arrest, he had been under considerable stress because he had put his acreage up as collateral to help his son open a business, said McVey. The business had failed and the acreage had to be sold as a result, she said.
Barthel has applied for residential treatment at the Lander Treatment Centre, operated by Alberta Health Services in Claresholm, said McVey.
Barthel apologized for his actions, saying he now lives in a seniors complex where he is making new friends and making changes.
“I fully understand the seriousness of the error I made,” he said. “I’m very sorry.”
Barthel held his emotions in check as two Alberta sheriffs led him away.
Holmes said in announcing his sentence that Barthel had put himself and others in danger through his decision to drink and drive.
Holmes prohibited him from driving for five years and placed him on probation for two years. His probation order includes conditions prohibiting him from using alcohol or non-prescription drugs and bans him from attending bars, casinos, liquor stores or other establishments whose main business is centred on alcohol or gambling.