Hartlepool man caught drink driving for fifth time is spared jail

Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.
Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.

A BANNED driver who pleaded guilty to drink driving for the fifth time has been spared jail by magistrates.

Mark Anthony Travis had been drinking in the Blacksmiths Arms, Stranton, Hartlepool, when, at the end of the night, he decided to drive his mates home in a Nissan Micra car.

A police officer spotted the vehicle travelling erratically along the town’s Stockton Road and suspected the driver to be under the influence of drink or drugs.

Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard that when the car almost hit a kerb, the officer illuminated the blue lights, sounded the siren, and indicated for it to pull over.

Prosecuting Rachel Dodsworth said: “The officer went over to the car and saw that the driver’s eyes were glazed and bloodshot, and she asked him if he’d been drinking alcohol. He said he had not.

“She told him to switch off the engine and when she spoke to him she could smell intoxicating liquor on his breath. She asked him again if he’d been drinking, and he then admitted to her that he’d had a couple of drinks.”

The court heard that a roadside alcohol breath test proved positive and when the 32-year-old was taken to Hartlepool Police Station for further tests it was shown that he was two-and-a-half times the legal drink drive limit.

He had 90 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

Mrs Dodsworth said: “Regarding his record, it is severely aggravating. This is number four in terms of excess alcohol offences.”

The first and second offences of driving over the limit happened just two days apart back in 2001, the third in 2009, and the fourth happened in December 2010 when he was locked up for six months.

Travis, of Bede Grove, in the Rift House area of Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to drink driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance on October 3.

Stuart Haywood, mitigating, argued on behalf of his client that he needed help with his “thinking skills” rather than being sent to prison.

“My client had been at the Blacksmiths Arms and he was stopped a very short distance after he had got behind the wheel.

“He has a problem with his thinking and thought processes, and has a problem when he drinks too much alcohol.

“The irony is that he actually told one of his friends not to drive their car home, yet for some reason he then chose to foolishly do the very same thing.

“The question is why? If you know it’s wrong, why do it?

“That is evidence that someone has a very significant problem with their thinking process.”

Mr Haywood argued that if Travis went to prison then he would still have the same problems when he came out, so he urged magistrates to deal with him otherwise.

Chairman of the bench Kate Brown banned him from driving for 40 months, gave him a six-month jail term suspended for 12 months, ordered him to do 60 hours unpaid work, slapped him with a three-month curfew from 6pm until 6am and to pay £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.