A former Kings County RCMP officer charged with impaired driving and refusing the breathalyzertestified Wednesday that he was trying to evade what he thought were teenagers harassing him when he was pulled over in the early morning hours Dec. 24, 2016.
Scott MacMillan, who retired in August with 27 years of service, was a corporal with the Southwest Nova major crime unit at the time of his arrest on Highway 101 near Aylesford. He had also spent a year in Afghanistan, training police there in counter-terrorism and anti-corruption.
He said he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after his return. He testified that he was taking anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication as prescribed by his doctor, and on Dec. 23 was given a new prescription for a drug meant to help him sleep.
He said he had tried the drug before and didn’t like it, but tried it again because he was only sleeping between two and four hours a night.
The evening before he was pulled over, he testified, he went to a social gathering with his common-law partner and had about three glasses of wine between 6 p.m. and midnight. He said they took a taxi home but he didn’t feel impaired.
He said he went to the basement to unwind and didn’t have anymore to drink. He said he took two of the new pills and laid down, but didn’t feel tired at all and decided to drive to his cottage in Port Lorne. He was planning to meet his children there later on Christmas Eve.
MacMillan testified that he felt fine while driving, but knew the pills would kick in at some point.
He said when a car came up right behind his rented, four-door pickup truck he thought it was a police car because of how close it followed him, but when no emergency lights came on he thought it might have been teenagers.
He said he moved to the right side of his lane on Highway 101 so the car could see there was a tractor-trailer in front of him in case it wanted to pass, but it didn’t. He then moved to the left to see if there was room on the roadway ahead for him to pass, and said he may have crossed over the centre line.
Finally, he said, he passed the truck, but the trailing vehicle did as well and pulled back in behind him. He said he sped up to about 130 km/h to try to get away from it, but it stayed behind him.
That made him slow down, he testified, and he indicated his intent to move to the right-hand lane when he reached a passing lane. That’s when the emergency lights on the car came on and he was pulled over.
He said he didn’t know the police officer so he tried to be slow and deliberate with his movements when looking for the vehicle documentation, because that was what he would want someone to do for him.
He said the officer went back to his car and then came back and asked him to get out of truck, butwhen he did his legs felt heavy “like cement.” He said he had never had that feeling before, and the officer took his arm to guide him back to the police car.
He said he was shocked when the officer told him he was being arrested for impaired driving. He said he refused a request to take a breathalyzertest because he felt he should only have been detained for a roadside screening test, not a full breathalzyer demand.
“In my view, I felt it was the wrong demand, and I told him I was going to refuse,” MacMillan said.
He said he also refused at the Kingston RCMP office when he was taken there.
Under cross-examination, he said may not have read all the documentation that came with his prescriptions, and when asked by Crown attorney William Mathers whether the new prescription came with a warning to not take it with alcohol, he said “I believe you’re right.”
He said that in his perception, the pills weren’t working before he left his home.
In his closing argument, defence lawyer Chris Manning said that while there may have been sufficient cause for the arresting officer to demand a roadside breath sample, there was not enough to ask for a breathalzyer test. He said his client was cooperative, clear and responsive when interacting with the officer.
He said if the demand was improper, there could be no refusal.
He also suggested that it was the drugs that impaired MacMillan when he had trouble walking after exiting his truck, not alcohol as laid out in the charge against him.
In his submissions, Mathers said regardless of whether the charge alleged MacMillan was impaired by drugs or alcohol, the alcohol had reacted with the drugs and caused impairment. He also said that the level or impairment perceived by the officer was enough for a request to take a breathalyzer test.
Judge Ronda van der Hoek has reserved her decision.