Former NS MLA fined $1,000 for drunk driving

Hugh MacKay, left, pleaded guilty to obstructing driving in a provincial court on Wednesday.  (Craig Paisley/CBC - photo credit)

Hugh MacKay, left, pleaded guilty to obstructing driving in a provincial court on Wednesday. (Craig Paisley/CBC – photo credit)

A former member of the Nova Scotia legislature was fined $1,000 and lost his driver’s license for a year after admitting to drunk driving.

Hugh MacKay pleaded guilty to a charge of unfit driving during a brief appearance in Halifax Provincial Court on Wednesday morning.

Judge Ann Marie Simmonds accepted a recommendation from Crown and the defense to issue the mandatory minimum sentences in this case.

MacKay’s attorney, Don Murray, hinted earlier this month that a guilty plea is imminent, preempting the need for a court hearing. The appearance on Wednesday made the plea official.

The court was told that Penny Lawless, MacKay’s constituency assistant, contacted her husband Michael on November 22, 2018 to let him know that she had been in contact with her boss and thought he was impaired.

She told Michael Lawless that MacKay was in his vehicle somewhere near New Ross and that he sounded extremely drunk. She then used a tracking app on her phone to pinpoint his location. It was around 1:47 p.m.

vehicle damaged

The Crown told the judge that Michael Lawless found MacKay on the edge of Highway 12. He was in his vehicle and it was running. According to testimony read in court, Lawless found MacKay slumped over the wheel with a nearly empty bottle of vodka in his lap.

Lawless told MacKay he was there to take him home. He said MacKay got combative and drove away.

Lawless followed MacKay as he exited Highway 12 and onto Highway 103, the main highway that runs along the south coast of Nova Scotia. MacKay drove approximately 50 kilometers before departing for Tantallon, a Halifax suburb.

MacKay’s vehicle struck a lamppost in a mall parking lot there, although his attorney said the collision was due to black ice and not an impairment.

The collision severely damaged MacKay’s vehicle to the point that it was undriveable, and he then accepted an offer from Lawless to be driven home.

A few days after the collision, on November 24, 2018, MacKay shared pictures of his damaged vehicle in a group chat with family members. He captioned the pictures: “Don’t drink and don’t drive. This could have been much worse for me and others. A completely stupid act on my part. My apologies to you all.”

Incident reported a year later

MacKay’s attorney said his client did not intend for his online comments to his family to be included as evidence in a criminal proceeding, but he does not dispute their content.

But Murray questioned some of the evidence Michael Lawless presented in his statements to the police. Murray noted that Lawless waited a full year until the following November before going to the police.

“It was when his marriage started to fall apart and he was trying to get some leverage on his wife by hitting on her employer, who happens to be Mr MacKay. And wanted to damage his reputation,” Murray told the court.

The delay in dealing with the drunk driving allegation caused friction within MacKay’s Liberal constituency association.

The allegation against MacKay surfaced at the same time he was dealing with another 2019 drunk driving charge. While he pleaded guilty to that case and was fined $2,000, the courts considered the 2018 incident a first offense and he was punished as a first-time offender.

MacKay resigned from the Liberal caucus and sat as an independent MLA after the second indictment was brought. He did not run in the last election.



Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button