A 39-year-old man has been slapped with a driving ban of over two years after driving a work car while nearly three times over the legal limit.
Steven Anthony O’Brien, who was also ordered to carry out 110 hours of community service, initially denied driving the car, but made a U-turn after being shown CCTV images of him getting in the vehicle and driving away.
He appeared in Magistrate’s Court on Monday (27 January) to face one charge of “driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration above prescribed limit”.
Pictured: O'Brien was seen on CCTV leaving Minden Place car park.
The Court heard that on 21 December O’Brien was seen on CCTV getting into a car at Minden Place car park. He appeared drunk and was seen driving away on camera.
When police officers arrived at O'Brien's home, he said the car belonged to his employer and that he had taken possession of the only key for it the previous evening.
He said he had driven the car to town in the morning to do some shopping. He had a beer at around 12:00 and had then bumped into a friend while walking in town. He claimed he walked with him to the car park, and that his friend had driven him home.
Police requested a breath test, which O’Brien failed, leading to him being arrested on suspicion of driving while over the limit. Tests revealed that O'Brien had no less than 99micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath - nearly three times the legal limit of 35micrograms.
At Police HQ, O'Brien was shown CCTV images of him stumbling by himself between the Fish Market and Minden Place car park, getting in the car and then driving away.
The Court heard that after seeing the images, O’Brien held his hands up and admitted to the offence.
Pictured: Advocate Alison Brown was defending O'Brien.
His legal representative, Advocate Alison Brown, described his decision to drive home as a “terrible misjudgement."
She presented character references on behalf of O’Brien and told the court his job was not in jeopardy as a result of the offence.
She urged the Magistrate, Bridget Shaw, to impose a shorter disqualification period, explaining that O’Brien’s family relied on him for driving as his partner was not able to drive.
The Magistrate noted that O’Brien was a man of previous good character and that he had pleaded guilty on the first opportunity.
“You didn’t cooperate fully with the police officers … but you changed your mind quickly and that is to your credit,” she added.
She described O’Brien’s reading – 99 micrograms by 100 ml of breath – as “high”, adding “This is a serious matter”.
She opted for a community service order as a “direct alternative” to custody and urged O’Brien to work hard on the scheme and keep strictly to the rules.
“If you break this order you are likely to go straight to custody,” she said before imposing 110 hours of community service - the equivalent of five months in custody.
Handing down a driving disqualification of 28 months, the Magistrate added that O'Brien that he would have been facing 30 months had it not been for his family circumstances.
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