York Regional Police say a 911 call from a concerned citizen led to the arrest and conviction of an impaired driver.
Police have now released the audio and video of that phone call, which came in from York Region resident Kim Rennie almost two years ago to the day on Nov. 23, 2017.
“Kim’s call to 911 led us to laying criminal charges against that driver and, due to her testimony in court, resulted in a conviction for impaired driving,” Deputy Chief Jim MacSween said at a news conference launching the annual festive season RIDE campaign in Vaughan on Friday.
Rennie said she was driving home from work when a truck approached her vehicle from behind at a high rate of speed. She said the driver nearly ran her off the road when he attempted to pass her.
“I instantly knew something seemed wrong,” Rennie told reporters Friday.
She recalls the driver drifting from the lane to the shoulder, crossing into oncoming lanes. He then turned in the opposite direction.
“I made the decision to make a U-turn and follow him and call 911,” Rennie said.
Rennie said the 911 dispatcher warned her to keep a safe distance and remained on the line with her as she travelled several kilometres following the suspected drunk driver until he was arrested by police.
Rennie was then asked to testify in court about the events of that night one year later.
The video starts off with Rennie telling the dispatcher she is requesting police assistance.
“So this guy almost ran me off the road twice,” Rennie said.
“And he is all over the road.”
“He’s been from one side of the road to the other.”
“I have the call in, I am just seeing who is in the area,” the dispatcher said.
The video then turns to dashcam footage from a police cruiser.
“Dispatch to 3135 for a possible impaired, complainant is following,” the dispatcher tells the officer on duty.
The dispatcher asks Rennie, whose vehicle is seen in the video following behind the impaired driver: “He’s at the stop sign at McCowan?”
Rennie responds: “That’s the guy at the stop sign at McCowan, and this officer is going around.
“Yep, he’s got him.”
The driver pulls over, and an officer is seen approaching the vehicle.
Officer: “How ya doing, sir?”
Driver: “Good, how are you?”
Officer: “Good thanks. Got a call about an impaired driver.”
Driver: “No, I’m not.”
Officer: “Where are you coming from?”
Driver: “Huh? We’re just going for beers.”
Officer: “Going from or to?”
Driver: “Coming from.”
The audio from the driver becomes mumbled and is inaudible for transcription.
Officer: “I am going to get you to step out of the vehicle for me, please.
“Just get you to park it first.
“Turn it off for me, please.”
After a few more moments, the officer helps the driver open the car door and places the man under arrest.
Officer: “OK, you’re under arrest for impaired driving. Put your hands behind your back.
“3225, I got one in custody.”
The officer then walks the man to the police cruiser.
York Regional Police said the driver had a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit and was charged with impaired driving.
“Luckily, no one was seriously injured,” police wrote at the end of the video.
“This caller is one of almost 5,000 who call police to report an impaired driver each year. That call saves lives.”
MacSween said the number of concerned citizens calling police about suspected impaired drivers is up from previous years, leading police to laying more than 1,500 impaired-related criminal charges so far in 2019. MacSween added that police have laid at least 100 more charges than this time last year.
Through the Safe Roads… Your Call campaign, police encourage members of the community to help officers stop and arrest impaired drivers by calling 911, MacSween said.
“If anyone witnesses dangerous driving or any concerning behaviour that could jeopardize the safety of road users, we ask that you contact police immediately,” MacSween said.
“We consider these incidents a life-threatening crime in progress and will respond to these calls.
“We want to get the message out that these calls are never a waste of our time, even though you may not be sure another driver is impaired. If the driving is concerning, we will respond and investigate that behaviour.”