Driver seen drinking ‘zero alcohol’ wine was almost five times limit

Sean Smith failed a roadside breath test and was later found to be more than four times the legal al

Sean Smith failed a roadside breath test and was later found to be more than four times the legal alcohol limit Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Archant

A 56-year-old Suffolk man has been handed a suspended prison sentence for driving while almost five times the legal alcohol limit.

Sean Smith was spotted drinking from a bottle of wine behind the wheel of a parked Volkswagen Passat on January 30 this year.

He was pulled over shortly afterwards and later found to have 155 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit being 35mcg.

Smith, of Suffolk Road, Sudbury, admitted drink-driving at Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on July 28.

He returned to the same court on Tuesday this week to hear the outcome of a pre-sentence report by the probation service.

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Prosecutor David Bryant said: “A member of the public saw Mr Smith drinking from a bottle of wine inside a vehicle in a car park in Sudbury.

“Information was passed to the police, and shortly after 1pm, the vehicle was stopped in nearby Queens Road.

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“He duly provided a sample of breath which turned out to be positive.”

Smith, a man of previous good character, told the court he had experienced personal bereavement, financial hardship, sickness, and ill-health diagnoses among family members over the last year.

Smith told magistrates he had been drinking ‘zero alcohol’ wine on the day of the offence, and that alcohol he consumed the previous night must have contributed to the breathalyser reading.

Mr Bryant said: “I appreciate we’re not all experts in toxicology, but if Mr Smith’s case is that he consumed alcohol the night before, I would ask you to bear in mind that the reading was taken at 2.45pm.”

Magistrates said the evidential reading, taken at the police investigation centre following Smith’s arrest, was “exceptionally high” and at the top end of their sentencing guidelines – with a starting point of 12 weeks’ custody.

They said the offence had crossed the custody threshold but that they had chosen to suspend the 12-week sentence for a year due to Smith’s lack of previous convictions and the effect of the Covid-19 emergency on prison conditions and regimes.

Smith was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work as part of the suspended sentence and was banned from driving for three years from date if his conviction on July 28.

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