Ex-Police Officer Avoids Losing Driving Licence

I read with interest the case of former police officer Adrian Pearce who was sentenced at Basingstoke Magistrates‘ Court on Thursday 3 January by a District Judge.

The case has received widespread coverage in the national press and on social media for the court not disqualifying Pearce for committing a drink driving offence. On closer inspection, whilst an extremely foolish thing to do, there is no evidence of Pearce actually driving, only that he intended to drive having returned on the train from a Christmas party. 

Had he not intended to drive, then he would have had a defence in law to the allegation he faced. As there is no evidence of Pearce driving or attempting to drive then a mandatory disqualification does not necessarily follow.

Instead, he pleaded guilty to and was sentenced for being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle.

The Sentencing Guidelines that all courts follow make it clear that for a breath reading of 61, as in this instance, a disqualification is only discretionary. The District Judge, having heard the personal mitigation and the impact a driving ban would have on Pearce’s future employability, quite properly exercised his discretion.

It is not a case of Pearce being treated more leniently because he was a police officer, as I have seen suggested. Each sentencing court should deal with a particular case on its own merits as has happened in this instance.

If the courts are not afforded discretion, then we are heading down a slippery slope……what next?....a mobile phone app for the public to decide on sentence?!