Property developer fights driving ban in court

Roadside suspension followed 10 drink night out

Prominent property developer Donato De Cotiis is going to court to quash a 90-day driving prohibition handed down in March after he was stopped at a roadblock on the Lions Gate Bridge where he failed two breathalyzer tests and “omitted” in statements to police that he had consumed four tequila shots at the Roxy minutes before driving home following a night out at a Canucks game.

De Cotiis filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court July 6, the day before the prohibition was set to continue after his adjudicative review with the province’s superintendent of motor vehicles failed. According to the petition, De Cotiis’ lawyer had trouble getting information about the driving prohibition from RoadSafetyBC, including disclosure of “Accuracy Check Sheets” for the breathalyzers that registered the failures.

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However, according to the petition, the adjudicator hearing the case on May 31 rejected De Cotiis’ evidence, which included an expert opinion from a toxicologist he hired who calculated that, based on De Cotiis’ weight and stated drinking patterns on the night, he couldn’t have had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit.

De Cotiis claimed in court documents he went to dinner on March 7, 2017, at Gotham Steakhouse where he drank three five-ounce glasses of Domaine de Cristia “Cuvée Tradition” Grenache Blend Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2014 wine. The vintage has a 14 per cent alcohol content and accompanied a meal including a 26-ounce steak, four pieces of cheese toast, sautéed spinach and mushrooms, steamed asparagus and tuna tartare.

When he got to the game, according to the petition, over the first two periods De Cotiis claimed he drank three cans of Coors Light and ate three slices of pizza, six chicken strips and “several pieces of a mixed vegetable platter.”

“The game went to overtime and the Montreal Canadiens won,” the petition states. “I remained in the suite discussing real estate, Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, bike lanes and increases in housing assessments.”

After the game, De Cotiis and his unnamed companions went out in search of a lounge or pub, and “eventually settled upon the Roxy,” the petition states. He claimed he lined up to buy drinks and ordered four tequila shots, one for him and each of his companions.

“Unfortunately, once I paid for these drinks, I looked around and I could not find them,” the petition states. “I decided to drink the four shots and quickly go home.”

De Cotiis claimed it was 1:10 a.m. when he drank the four shots and he left the Granville Street club, walking to his car parked at a nearby gym on Seymour Street. With little traffic, in less than 10 minutes he reached the Lions Gate Bridge where the West Vancouver Police Department had set up a roadblock. Police alleged that De Cotiis had red eyes, slurred speech and a “subdued demeanour” in addition to being unsteady on his feet.

But De Cotiis claimed he was eating dried salted pumpkin seeds before coming up to the roadblock, and disputes that alcohol had slurred his speech or made him unsteady.

“I was a little overwhelmed by the situation, and it had been a long night,” the petition states. “I was wearing cowboy boots with a two-inch heel.”

De Cotiis’ petition also states that he didn’t tell the officer about his last drinks because he “felt they were so recent, they were not yet absorbed into my system and thus they were not impacting me.”

But his claims failed to sway the province’s adjudicator, who confirmed the prohibition, the monetary penalty and the vehicle impoundment on June 23.

“I question the reliability of your recollection of how much you drank. As the expert opinion regarding your (blood alcohol content) that you provided is entirely based on your stated drinking pattern, which I have found unreliable, I find it of no assistance,” the adjudicator wrote.

De Cotiis seeks to quash the prohibition and to have it stayed pending the outcome of his B.C. Supreme Court petition. The factual basis of the case has not been proven or tested in court, and the superintendent of motor vehicles and attorney general of British Columbia had not filed responses by press time.

Business in Vancouver is published by Glacier Media, parent company of the North Shore News.

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