Motorist banned after failing to provide breath sample

PUBLISHED: 13:41 24 May 2017 | UPDATED: 13:41 24 May 2017

Exeter magistrates court. Ref exe 01-17TI 4925. Picture: Terry Ife

Exeter magistrates court. Ref exe 01-17TI 4925. Picture: Terry Ife

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A man whose evening drinking in Exmouth ended with his car stopped in the middle of a motorway has been banned from driving.

Exeter Magistrates’ Court heard that on May 7 police were called to reports of an Audi stationary in lane two of the M5 northbound carriageway, with the driver reportedly slumped over the steering wheel and unconscious.

By the time police arrived, at 3.50am, they found that the car, which had a blown out tyre, had been moved to the hard shoulder by an ambulance crew, highways officers, and a member of the public who had stopped to help.

The driver, Darren Bowden, 41, previously listed as of Sadler Close, Exmouth, but now of Exeter, was asked to provide a roadside breath sample, which produced a reading of 71 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath – just more than twice the legal limit.

However, when later asked to provide an evidential breath sample, he was unable to do so.

Bowden pleaded guilty to failing to provide a sample for analysis and magistrates disqualified him from driving for 24 months, with the potential to have this reduced by 24 weeks if he completes a drink-driving rehabilitation course.

He was also given a 12-month community order, with 180 hours unpaid work, and told to pay £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

The court heard that Bowden had been drinking in Exmouth on the night of the offence with friends he knew from playing rugby and had planned to stay in Exmouth with his girlfriend, but following an argument was unable to do so, and had instead decided to drive.

Defence advocate James Rickard, mitigating, said Bowden disputed having been unconscious, adding: “There is no evidence of unacceptable driving. The tyre blew, it’s as simple as that.

“There were five attempts to blow into the breath machine. My client’s recollection is he certainly did try, but couldn’t make the machine work.

“He is a lone parent responsible for a mortgage. He has to drive for his work.

“He is very remorseful. This is not a man who recklessly goes out every night, this is a man who through an unfortunate set of circumstances ended up in this way.”

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