Learner driver, 84, convicted of drink driving after 400-yard trip home from hotel

The Randolph Hotel, Reydon.
Photo: Nick Butcher.

The Randolph Hotel, Reydon. Photo: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Archant � 2007

A Suffolk man has been convicted of drink-driving at the age of 84.

Alan Pye admitted taking the wheel of his silver Mazda after drinking wine and beer at a hotel near Southwold – on the way home from picking up a prescription – on September 12.

The former engineer, who spent 15 years in the navy, also pleaded guilty to driving the 400-yard journey on a provisional driving licence, without supervision or L-plates.

Pye’s car had been spotted by patrolling officers in the car park of the Randolph Hotel before being driven back towards his Kingfisher Crescent home, in Reydon, at about 5.45pm.

Suffolk Magistrates’ Court heard how officers noticed a strong smell of alcohol on the pensioner, who predicted he would fail a roadside breath test after confessing to drinking three glasses of wine and half a pint of lager that afternoon.

Two subsequent intoximeter tests, taken at Martlesham Heath police investigation centre, returned a lower reading of 68 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit being 35mcg.

It also transpired Pye was driving otherwise than in accordance with a provisional licence – and had previously been caught driving while disqualified and without insurance in 1992.

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Sue Threadkell, mitigating, said Pye was usually transported from place to place by someone else, but that his driver was on holiday at the time of the offence.

“He drove to the chemist 200 yards away to pick up a prescription,” she added.

“He then went to the hotel, another 200 yards away, which he does to seek a little companionship.

“His trip to the hotel was his way of seeing people. On this occasion, he made the unfortunate decision to take the motor vehicle.

“Police have seized the vehicle, but he won’t be asking for it back, and he won’t be applying for his licence again.”

Pye was told he was physically healthy enough to drive by his GP two months before the incident, but had since suffered six falls and was now under medical supervision.

He left court with the aid of a walking stick after being banned from driving for 20 months and fined £160. He will also have to pay a contribution of £85 to the cost of prosecution and a £30 statutory fee towards victim services.

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