It is reported that Mr Saunders was sentenced at Chester Magistrates’ Court, for a charge of failing to provide a specimen of breath. Mr Saunders faces ten weeks custody, as well as a 30 month driving disqualification and a total fine of £620, after entering a guilty plea.
Mr Saunders was released from custody yesterday after a successful bail application, and he is now due to appear at Chester Crown Court on the 4th October to hear an appeal against sentence.
It appears that the offence stemmed from Mr Saunders being stopped by police on the 10th May 2019, after speeding and failing to give way at a roundabout, which caused another vehicle to brake. It is alleged that Mr Saunders' speech was slurred and he had to prop himself against his vehicle when he was stopped, and that he refused to provide a specimen of breath at the roadside, and then again at the police station.
Based on the sentencing guidelines, Mr Saunders sentence falls within the top bracket of three, where the court has discretion to impose a driving disqualification ranging from 29 to 30 months, and either a high level community order, or up to 12 weeks’ custody. The starting point for the judge would be 12 weeks’ custody.
In light of the sentencing decision, it must be noted that jail terms for convictions of failing to provide a specimen of breath are usually reserved for the most serious of cases. For the court to consider imposing custody, they would need to be satisfied that, for this offence, there was a deliberate refusal to provide a specimen, alongside evidence that there was a high level of impairment. The sentence imposed in Mr Saunders’ case would indicate at the very least, that those factors were present. Further, the surrounding circumstances of the offence can also aggravate the sentence. This could include evidence of bad driving, and it appears that this was also present in Mr Saunders' case.
Where custody is considered, the court should also considered whether it is appropriate to suspend that sentence, or in the alternative, impose a community order.
In addition to the above factors, as Mr Saunders entered his guilty plea at the last available opportunity, the court would not have afforded him the full amount credit that would have been given had he entered a guilty plea at the first appearance.
As we have seen in numerous cases over recent months, position and profile should never be used as an excuse for committing a driving offence, and in these circumstances, a judge should not use an isolated case to make an example of a ‘high profile’ offender in order to send a message to the wider public.
The judge’s comments regarding Mr Saunders’ conduct during the proceedings are clearly linked to the decision behind the penalty imposed, in that it appears the judge considers this to be relevant to the public interest as acting as a deterrent. This includes but is not limited to the profile of the defendant.
Our team of specialist motoring offence solicitors have extensive experience in representing and advising people who have been charged with motoring offences and are able to assist you if you find yourself in a similar situation. Call our lawyers now on 01616 966 229.