A Lerwick man has had his £10,000 car taken off him and been banned for two years after driving while almost six times the alcohol limit.
Andrew Brent Georgeson, 57, of Lower Sound, previously admitted driving at Tesco and elsewhere with 131 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.
Police had been tipped off when Georgeson went to Tesco in the car on 30th March. The vehicle was gone by the time officers arrived at the scene. They traced it to his house where drink-driving tests were conducted.
Defence agent Tommy Allan told Lerwick Sheriff Court today that Georgeson recognised he had difficulty with alcohol.
Georgeson, he said, had retired. Although he had gone back to work, he had been paid off and had been drinking daily.
Mr Allan insisted that Georgeson had sought appropriate help. He said: “There is no question he has not faced up to this.”
The court heard Georgeson was living on a monthly pension of three and a half thousand pounds.
He had bought his car three years ago for £20,000, and now reckoned it was worth half that amount.
Mr Allan said: “He is aware he will not be driving in the foreseeable future and his intention would have been to sell the car.” He stressed that Georgeson had no previous convictions.
He urged Sheriff Philip Mann to take into account the work done by Georgeson in facing up to his problems. He added that forfeiting the car would, in effect, amount to placing a £10,000 fine on Georgeson.
However, procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie argued forfeiture of the car was not disproportionate given Georgeson’s monthly pension income. He added that Georgeson’s reading was extremely high.
“It’s inane. It’s a six times the legal limit. That’s extraordinary.”
He listed “punishment, public denunciation, plus an element of deterrence” as the purpose behind sentencing.
“He has no previous convictions, but he’s someone who acknowledged he had a drink problem,” Mr MacKenzie said.
“This is someone who was a functioning alcoholic, and he knew that, yet he didn’t divest himself of his car. That may have been a reasonable course of action.”
The fiscal said those who drink and drive faced a “very real risk” that they would not only lose their licence, but also their car.
Sheriff Philip Mann told Georgeson: “Mr MacKenzie is right that the message has to get out to the public that if you drink and drive with a level of alcohol at this level, there is a risk that you not only lose your licence, but you also lose your car.”
He said forfeiture was “amply justified” because of the high count. But he decided not to impose any financial penalty.
Georgeson can reduce his driving ban by six months if he completes the drink-driving rehabilitation course.