Van driver who was five times limit is jailed and banned for 10 years

A man who drove to a petrol station while more than five times over the legal limit has been banned from driving for 10 years.

James Garson, of Bixter, was also imprisoned for nine months when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Tuesday.

Garson, 27, had previously admitted the offence, which occurred while driving a van on the A971 on 4th July last year. Garson was reported to the police by witnesses who noticed that he was visibly drunk while buying petrol at the Bixter pumps.

Tests carried out on Garson showed that he had 262 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, more than five times the legal limit.

Defence agent Liam McAllister said that his client had travelled seven metres from his workshop to the petrol station to obtain the fuel, and asked the short distance be considered in sentencing.

Mr McAllister said that his client was aware that he would lose his licence but asked for Sheriff Philip Mann to avoid handing Garson a custodial sentence.

He said that Garson had a potential offer of employment if he were to avoid imprisonment and that he was a proud man with a keen work ethic who wished to provide for his family.

Mr McAllister said that Garson accepted that this was the “last chance saloon” for him if he were to avoid a custodial sentence. This, Mr McAllister said, referred not just to avoiding imprisonment but also to Garson’s wellbeing.

He added that Garson’s drinking problems had resulted in him coming before the court previously and caused him health problems beyond his years.

“If he continues in the way that he has previously he is playing a very risky game with his own life,” Mr McAllister said and accepted there had to be changes to his lifestyle.

Sheriff Mann cited his “appalling” record of previous convictions, including two incidents of driving whilst disqualified and at least two offences of driving with excess alcohol.

The Sheriff also noted the extremely high alcohol count and said he had no option but to impose a custodial sentence.

“Quite a number of community disposals have been tried on you and they clearly have not had any effect because you have continued to offend.”

He said regardless of the distance travelled “you must have been very drunk and that constituted to a very grave risk to the safety of the public.”


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