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Drink driver's appeal against jail time and driving ban thrown out

Drink driver's appeal against jail time and driving ban thrown out

Monday 18 January 2021

Drink driver's appeal against jail time and driving ban thrown out

A 29-year-old drink driver, who failed to stop at a red light, has had his appeal against his prison sentence and driving ban thrown out.

Alexander Pringle, who was also found to have driven without a licence or insurance, was sentenced in the Magistrate’s Court on 9 December 2020.

It followed an incident on 9 November 2020 during which Pringle drove in town with 93 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath - nearly three times the legal limit of 35 micrograms.

That night Pringle, who didn’t have a valid licence or insurance for his Volvo, drove through a red light on La Route de St. Aubin.

Magistrates Court Blue

Pictured: Advocate Littler argued the Magistrate erred in imposing such a lengthy custodial sentence.

The Magistrate sentenced him to a total of 11 months in prison and imposed a four-and-a-half-year driving ban. 

On Thursday 14 January, Pringle appeared before Royal Court with his lawyer, Frances Littler, to appeal the sentence imposed by Magistrate Bridget Shaw, citing six different grounds.

Advocate Littler argued the Magistrate erred in imposing such a lengthy custodial sentence, which she described as “manifestly excessive."

She reminded the court that Pringle had no previous convictions in Jersey, although he had received two drink driving convictions in England and Scotland in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

The lawyer said her client had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity when he first appeared in Magistrate’s Court on 10 November and was therefore entitled to his sentence being reduced by a third as is usual in Court. She said the nine-month sentence for the drink driving offence didn’t reflect that and that five to six months would have been more appropriate. 

test breathalyser alcohol

Pictured: Pringle was found nearly three times over the legal limit.

Advocate Littler told the Court that her client had caused no injury or damage and that he had “significant personal mitigation” including his strong work record as a civil engineer. She also referred to a Social Enquiry Report, which noted Pringle’s offending had started when he was 23, following the sudden death of his father and moving away from home. 

Advocate Littler further argued that the two-month sentence imposed for driving through a red light should have run in parallel with the drink driving one, rather than being consecutive.

She said the Magistrate had been “wrong in principle” to treat the red-light offence as an aggravating factor to the drink driving one, to the prejudice of her client who “has been deprived of his liberty."

She also rejected the Magistrate’s description of the incident as “very bad driving around town for a prolonged time”, arguing that there was only a period of 17 minutes during which Pringle was seen on CCTV and that there was no evidence he had been driving continuously during that time.

The lawyer also said the driving ban was “manifestly excessive” and should be reduced by six months.


Pictured: Pringle received a 11-month prison sentence. (Government of Jersey)

Crown Advocate Chris Baglin rejected the defence lawyer’s arguments, describing the driving as “unacceptable."

He said no principles had been “offended” by the Magistrate’s decision to impose consecutive sentences. 

He told the Court Pringle’s drink driving conviction was the third of its type in five years and had aggravating features, including driving through a red light.

“Do we think, when everything is considered, that 11 months is manifestly excessive?” he asked.

The Crown Advocate noted Pringle had been driving in town “in a lit, built-up area” and had declined to comment on the circumstances of his driving.

He also noted that officers had estimated Pringle was driving 50mph to 60mph in the Tunnel, but Advocate Littler reminded the court that no measurements had been taken.

“The Magistrate was very thorough,” he said. “All the relevant matters have been taken into account.”

The case was heard by Royal Court Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith sitting with Jurats Charles Blampied and Pam Pitman, who dismissed the appeal.

The reasons behind their decision will be outlined in a judgment set to be released at a later date.

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Posted by Keith Marsh on
For a third time offender he was very lucky to get such a soft term inside. As for giving him a driving ban, it seems that this does have no effect on him, as he was also guilty of having no licence to drive or insurance.
The Courts have to get tough on this type of criminal behaviour and lets hope, that Pringle will reflect on the possibility that he could easily have killed people with his actions.
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