Saturday, January 09, 2010

One For The Road

This chap has managed to set a new record for drink-driving. It remains to be seen what sentence he will get, but I would be surprised if he doesn't get an immediate prison sentence and a ban of at least four or five years. As a High Risk Offender the DVLA will not automatically issue him with a licence at the end of his ban, but will require medical evidence that his abuse of alcohol has stopped. There are quite a few people who will never be issued with a licence; this has nothing to do with the courts but is an administrative decision by DVLA.
The highest reading that I have ever seen was 171, a long time ago. A young woman of about 20 was seen at 9 am having burst two tyres by hitting the kerb. She was struggling to get out the spare wheel, oblivious to the fact that she only had one of them, and a member of the public called police. We were told by her solicitor that she was from a good family and was suffering from some mental health problems; she was not usually a drinker, but she had been drinking vodka in her room for about ten hours. The reading was not helped by her being of slight build and female, both factors that make her more susceptible to alcohol than a 16-stone man. So we put the case off for medical and psychiatric reports and imposed an interim ban. I didn't sit on the sentencing hearing, but the reports were thorough and helpful and my colleagues imposed a probation order with conditions that she should receive treatment and remain under supervision for two years.
At the opposite end of the scale was the man whose car simply stopped in the filter lane of some traffic lights because he was too drunk to drive any further. When police arrived they opened the driver's door, and he fell into the road. There was an open bottle of vodka in the car, half-empty. At the police station he couldn't be breath-tested because of his state of intoxication, so a doctor certified him unfit.
It then turned out that this was his seventh drink-drive, that he was on a 10 year ban, and had been released fom prison for the same offence about six weeks ago. The maximum that we could impose for Drive Disqual. and drink-drive was six months, so that's what we gave him, along with a fresh 10 year ban (academic, really, since he will never get a licence). In those days we didn't have the power to seize the car, but we certainly would today. We felt a bit frustrated that the charges didn't allow us to ratchet up the sentence on this menace and we were reduced to hoping that his liver would do for him before he killed someone.

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