How Fair is the Sentencing for Drink-Driving Offences?

19th April 2018

How Fair is the Sentencing for Drink-Driving Offences?

If you tuned in to Mark Murphy’s BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast show yesterday morning you will have heard Gotelee’s Hugh Rowland offering his expert view on the sentence handed down to television star Ant McPartlin.

Mr McPartlin – one half of popular presenting team Ant and Dec – has been banned from driving for 20 months and fined £86,000 after pleading guilty to a charge of drink-driving.

While the fine is believed to be the biggest ever for drink-driving, callers to the breakfast show suggested the severity of the punishment may have been too lenient given that the defendant earns a reported £130,000 a week.

However, Mr Rowland, a Partner at Gotelee and an expert in criminal law, told listeners that the District Judge had applied sentencing guidelines correctly.

How did the court reach its decision?

The sentencing guidelines indicate a ban of between 17 and 22 months where the breath alcohol reading is between 60 and 89mcgms. Mr McPartlin’s reading was 75mcgms and the 20 month disqualification period is right in the middle of that guideline.

The guideline for the offence would be a Band C fine, which should be calculated at 150% of the defendant’s weekly take-home income – ie, after tax and national insurance have been deducted. If Mr McPartlin’s net pay is around £90,000 per week then the fine of £86,000 equates to 150% of the relevant weekly income with a one-third discount for a guilty plea.

Mr Rowland told listeners that the court’s sentence on fine and disqualification sat squarely within the guidelines for the offence and had not been unduly lenient. In fact, he said that it could even be argued that the judge hadn’t taken into account mitigating factors such as remorse, lack of previous convictions and good character.

Mr Rowland said the case begs the question as to whether celebrities should be treated more harshly because they are in the public eye. In this instance, it seems that the court dealt with one of Britain’s best-known television stars just as anyone else would be treated.

As District Judge Barbara Barnes told the defendant: “Because of the seriousness of this offence, the financial pain must be imposed on you as on any other offender.”

How can Gotelee’s criminal law lawyers help you?

We all know how important it is to stay safe on the roads. But even with the best of intentions sometimes things can go wrong and the police become involved. We are here to help, and most importantly we do not judge. If you are under investigation or have been charged with an offence, we can assess your situation and advise you on the best way forward.

Gotelee has a wealth of experience in representing those who from time to time are alleged to have broken the law. Our team of expert lawyers can explain the options open to you in a clear and understandable way.

Gotelee has offices in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe and Woodbridge.

If you would like to know where you stand on any issue of criminal law, contact Hugh Rowland on 01473 298140 or at hugh.rowland@gotelee.co.uk, or Howard Catherall on 01473 298167 or at howard.catherall@gotelee.co.uk

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