Driver banned for three years
A MACHINE operator has been banned from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence for three years after admitting drink driving.
James Hawkes, now living in Cumbria, appeared at Fort William Sheriff Court last week ( Wednesday April 26) on charges of drink driving and failing to identify himself as the driver of the vehicle involved, which he denied and which was accepted.
Procurator fiscal Martina Eastwood described to the court how, at 9.45pm on July 28, 2016, police officers on routine patrol noticed debris including tools and food strewn on a section of the A861 between Strontian and the Corran Ferry.
About 500 metres along the road, they saw a silver- grey Vauxhall Zafira next to a van in a layby which had shattered windows, a tire missing and its airbags deployed, and Hawkes, 28, was talking to two men from the van.
As the police approached and talked to the two men, Hawkes walked off into the woods.
When they traced him there, police discovered his speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet, and they performed a roadside breath test on him before taking him back to Fort William police station.
During the journey to the station, Hawkes told them he had had a drink after work and was driving south to see his mother in Cumbria as he was depressed following the recent death of his grandfather.
At the police station he was given another blood test at 11.30pm which showed he had 157mg of alcohol in his blood, more than three times the limit, which at that point was 50mg.
Solicitor Stephen Kennedy told the court that Hawkes had been working at Ardtonish Estate near Lochaline and had been given some cider from the estate manager in the late afternoon and he had then had a can of lager before driving towards the Corran Ferry.
Mr Kennedy said that Hawkes claims he had drunk more alcohol after he had stopped driving, and had been advised to head into the woods by the two men and had ‘ foolishly’ done so.
He told the court that when he saw the police, Hawkes came back out to talk to them.
The court heard that Hawkes had a previous drink driving conviction and Sheriff William Taylor said: ‘ The hands of the court are tied in situations like the one we find ourselves in here.’
As well as the three-year driving ban, Hawkes was ordered to pay a £1,000 fine.