Court revokes Kurt Ruan’s driver’s license for driving under the influence

POSTED: 11/20/14 11:25 PM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance sentenced Kurt Ruan yesterday to a 2-month condition prison sentence with 3 years of probation for causing a traffic accident while driving under the influence of alcohol on March 28. He also ignored a ban to drive his car for 6 hours, imposed by a police officer who had come to the scene of a car accident the defendant had caused on the Pondfill near Kams Food World supermarket. Furthermore, the court revoked the 46-year-old defendant’s right to drive a car for 6 months and ordered him to abide by instructions from the Rehabilitation Bureau, also if this includes treatment at Turning Point for alcohol addiction. Ruan will appeal the verdict.

Judge Rick Smid dismissed two of the five charges and acquitted the defendant of a third one. The court voided the charge that Ruan had jumped a red light at the intersection of Walter Nisbeth Road and Illidge Road. “It says that the defendant drove reckless or otherwise while his view was unobstructed and while the traffic light was red. This charge is incomprehensible, because it cannot be established without a doubt which violation this concerns,” the court ruling states.

With the same argument the court dismissed the charge that Ruan had caused another car accident after he drove away from the scene of the first one.

The court acquitted Ruan of endangering traffic safety while he drove away from the scene of the accident. The prosecution had charged that a pedestrian had to jump out of the way to prevent contact with the departing car.

The court did find however proof that the defendant had been under the influence of alcohol. Police officers at the scene of the accident near Kams observed that Ruan smelled strongly of alcohol, that he was unsteady on his legs, spoke with a double tongue and behaved belligerent and noisy towards them.

Attorney Shaira Bommel’s attempt to have this charge dismissed for lack of scientific evidence failed. “The law does not require such evidence,” the court ruling states. The court made clear that a police officer is entitled to order a driving-ban to motorists that in his or her opinion are so far under the influence of alcohol that they are unable to drive. Bommel’s defense on this point – lack of scientific evidence for drunkenness – failed as well.

The court found further proof in a report from an inspector who had kept Ruan at the police station for sobering up. “The defendant was unable to give a reasonable explanation for the accident; he had a double tongue, was unsteady on his legs and had bloodshot eyes.”

Judge Smid established that the defendant had driven his car under the influence of alcohol, that he caused a traffic accident and that he ignored the driving-ban. The court held it against Ruan  that he was sentenced on December 9, 2008 for drunk driving. On that occasion the court sentenced the defendant to a 2,000 guilders ($1,100) fine (or 40 days of imprisonment) and conditionally revoked his driver’s license for 2 years.

After this conviction, the Island Territory took Ruan’s company vehicle away and he had to drive a private car for his work for some time.

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