An Ottawa assistant Crown attorney has been charged with impaired driving after a crash on Highway 417 early Saturday morning.



More from Blair Crawford, Ottawa Citizen

Published on: December 7, 2015 | Last Updated: December 7, 2015


Ontario Provincial Police charged Matt Humphreys, 35, after his Ford F-150 pickup struck a construction vehicle in the westbound lanes of the 417 near Metcalfe Street at about 2:20 a.m. Saturday.

There were no injuries. The F-150 hit the rear of a parked Ministry of Transportation sign truck, a vehicle used to divert traffic from a closed lane that is equipped with impact-softening crash barriers at the back, said Const. Rheal Levac of the OPP in Ottawa.

Levac would not confirm Humphreys’ occupation, but the Citizen has learned that Friday night was the annual Christmas party for Ottawa’s Crown attorneys’ office, held in a rented banquet hall at the Ottawa Police Association headquarters on Catherine Street.

Humphreys was arrested at the crash scene and brought to the OPP detachment in Kanata, where he was given a blood-alcohol test, Levac said. He was released later that day. Levac would not disclose Humphreys’ test result.

Humphreys is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 26 on one charge of impaired driving and one count of operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level over 80 mg/100 ml.

The Ottawa Crown’s office was silent Monday and referred the Citizen to the Ministry of Attorney General for comment. In an email, ministry spokesman Brendan Crawley would not comment on the specific case because it was a “human resources” matter.

“When a Crown is charged with an offence, just as with any other person, they are presumed innocent until proven guilty and generally their employment continues though they may be assigned different duties until the case is resolved,” Crawley said in an email.

As a Crown prosecutor, Humphreys has been involved a number of high-profile drinking and driving cases, including the October 2011 death of social activist Alexandra Dodger, who was struck and killed as she crossed St. Patrick Street at 3:30 a.m. by a car travelling the wrong way on the one-way street. Maxime Morin Leblanc, 28, was convicted of criminal negligence causing death, impaired driving and refusing to provide a breath sample.

Humphreys also prosecuted the case of Sommit Luangpakham, who was convicted of plowing down five cyclists riding on March Road in July 2009.

Gregg Thomson of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Ottawa said the charges are a serious concern.

“This is deeply disturbing from MADD’s perspective, that someone who works closely in this environment and is responsible for prosecuting impaired drivers and protecting public safety that we find him in this position,” said Thomson, who runs the victim services program for MADD in Ottawa.

“One of the challenging pieces, one of the disturbing pieces, is that in Ottawa there are so many fantastic alternatives,” Thomson said. “It’s a pure choice that someone has made to take that risk, to risk somebody else’s life. We have a great transportation system. We have a great taxi and Uber system, there’s just no reason for it.”