11/29/2013 07:00 EST | Updated 01/29/2014 05:59 EST

Mounties Use Hospital Blood Test To Charge Drunk Driver

Science Photo Library - ADAM GAULT via Getty Images
In what a Saskatchewan judge is calling an "unusual" drinking-and-driving case, the RCMP has seized hospital records and used a patient's blood test results to charge him — several weeks after the incident.

Kamilio F. Ladongi crashed a sport utility vehicle near Moose Jaw on Feb. 12, 2012, and was taken to the city's Union Hospital.

Court later heard it was a "horrific" accident and he was lucky to be alive. The SUV crossed the Trans-Canada Highway, went into the ditch, hit an approach, catapulted over it and rolled. A truck driver testified it looked like the driver had fallen asleep.

An injured Ladongi was seen crawling out of the wreckage.

Police at the scene may have suspected he had been drinking, but he was on a stretcher with an oxygen mask on his face and in the ambulance before they could make inquiries.

Typically, when confronted with a suspected drunk driver, police make an immediate demand for a breath or blood sample, get the test done, have it analyzed by an expert and obtain an analysis certificate. They then take that evidence to court.

Hospital records requested 3 months later

In this case, the key evidence came not immediately, but more than three months later. 

Police received a tip that Ladongi had alcohol in his system. They used that to obtain a production order from a judge and served it on the hospital to get Ladongi's blood test results.

Those records showed he indeed did have a certain amount of alcohol in his blood. 

An RCMP forensics expert did some calculations and determined his blood-alcohol level the morning of the crash was the equivalent of at least .124 per cent — well over the legal limit of .08.

Defence calls hospital evidence unreliable

Ladongi's lawyer argued the Crown's evidence was unreliable and should be tossed out, but Moose Jaw Queen's Bench Justice Douglas Kovatch disagreed.

Kovatch said he had initially been concerned that the standard police procedure for dealing with suspected drunk drivers — where there's a lawful demand for a breath sample, detailed collection procedures and analysis certificates produced — had been avoided through the seizure of hospital records.

In his seven-page written decision, Kovatch called the case "unusual."

But on further examination, at least one other case from Alberta shows that these records are reliable and admissible as evidence, he said.

Kovatch concluded he was satisfied the Crown had proven its case and Ladongi was guilty of driving with a blood-alcohol level exceeding .08.

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