Unless you’ve been in hiding somewhere for the last month, you will know that TV presenter Ant McPartlin (50% of the national treasures Ant and Dec) had been arrested for driving while over the prescribed alcohol limit, or the colloquial term ‘drink driving’.
He appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court yesterday (16 April 2018) where he pleaded guilty to the charge, arising out of a road traffic collision from 18 March 2018.
If you looked at various social media threads immediately after his arrest, the feelings towards McPartlin varied massively- from ‘we should all feel sorry for him’ through to just short of ‘hang him’. A lot of people were calling for him to be made an example of, calling for him to be sent to prison. But was that option ever a likely one?
When he was breathalysed, his reading was 75 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35.
He was therefore more than double the legal limit. Add into that equation the fact he had apparently been speeding before taking a corner too fast and colliding with 2 other vehicles. It doesn’t make for a pretty picture.
But- the Magistrates Court Sentencing Guidelines state that for a breath reading between 60-89, the punishment is a fine of 150% of a person’s weekly earnings as well as a disqualification of between 17-22 months. In certain cases though, an immediate custodial sentence can never be ruled out.
McPartlin was fined £86,000 (based on his weekly earnings of £130,000ish) and given a ban of 20 months.
Although there were several aggravating factors (the crashes, the passenger in his car and the manner of his driving before the crash), he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and until that point had no convictions recorded against him. District Judge Barbara Barnes fined him at the lower rate of 100% of his weekly earnings, before giving him credit for his plea in the form of a third discount, in coming to the total- one of the highest ever fines handed down to an individual for drink driving.
Add into that his personal mitigation, and the massive fall from grace that media superstars suffer from when court cases rear their heads, and you have an overall sentence that is serious enough to mark the incident, but also one that shows the same sort of leniency that a ‘normal’ man on the street facing his first conviction would expect to receive from a UK court. McPartlin was also offered a drink drive rehabilitation course, meaning that if he successfully completes it, his driving ban can be reduced by a quarter.
Overall, McPartlin actually came out of it having received a good overall sentence. His legal team did a very good job of advancing his mitigation and explaining his issues; the past, present and the future ones. They were able to persuade the court to go outside of the Sentencing Guidelines and sentence him more leniently than would be expected.
At Ringrose Law, we too have dedicated specialists in driving matters. Our solicitors can prepare your case fully to present to a court in mitigation if you are accused of a similar offence. While your fine may not be as high as McPartlin’s (unless your earnings are as high as his to start with!) we can undoubtedly make a difference to the sentence you ultimately receive. Contact us to discuss your case with one of our team.