Thursday, August 19, 2010

‘Go ahead take me to jail,’ Ford told police

Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford had six words for the Miami police officer who arrested him on drunk driving and marijuana possession charges 11 years ago.
“Go ahead,” he said, “take me to jail.”
That statement, recorded in a police report, marks the crux of an incident that will now follow Ford on the campaign trail.
With boxes checked yes for suspected “influence of drugs” and “influence of alcohol,” the report etches out the details of Ford’s arrest.
When Miami police pulled him over at 1:30 a.m. for driving without headlights, Ford got out of his car and threw his hands in the air.
“The def[endant] approached me and took all of his money and threw it to the ground,” Miami police officer Timothy Marks wrote in the arrest record.
“The def[endant] was acting nervous. When [he] spoke to me I could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath. His eyes were bloodshot.”
Marks also found “a marijuana joint cigarette” in the back pocket of Ford’s pants.
Ford was charged with driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. The marijuana charge was later dismissed, but Ford was convicted of impaired driving after pleading no contest to the charge.
Ford denied the marijuana charge altogether when confronted by a reporter Wednesday. He later admitted to it and scheduled a hasty news conference Thursday to respond to the reports.
Ford said he forgot about the pot because of a “more serious” incident that happened at the same time. He was referring to the impaired driving episode, but his version of the story does not include a DUI charge.
“What I remember is failing to provide a breath sample,” he said.
“When I think about those charges, the marijuana charge was dismissed. So when somebody discussed this with me the first thing that pops in my head was failing to provide a breath sample,” Ford said.
Ford later told reporters he had been drinking wine during a Valentine’s Day dinner with his wife.
“I admit, maybe I had, you know, a little bit . . . one, two glasses of wine or two.
“I can’t remember exactly what it was,” he said. “I wasn’t drunk.”
When pressed, Ford said he shared “a couple bottles” or “a couple of litres” of wine with his wife.
“[M]aybe I shouldn’t have been driving,” he said.
Reemberto Diaz, the lawyer who represented Ford, doesn’t remember the particulars of the case but said police have the authority to lay impaired-driving charges without a breath test.
“If you’re charged with a DUI it’s because you were under the influence,” Diaz said.
“You’ve seen someone drunk before, right? You don’t have to give that person a breath test to know that he’s drunk.
“A breath sample is just one of the things they can take into account.”
The driving-under-the-influence conviction was handled without Ford returning to the U.S. He paid a $500 fine and completed 50 hours of community service, which he said he fulfilled by coaching football.
Ford said he has been charged on two other occasions: for an assault during a hockey fight when he was 18 and an incident involving his wife that was dismissed.
With files from Lesley Ciarula Taylor

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