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Legal ‘blunder’ allows impaired motorist to keep licence

A legal loophole saw a motorist escape disqualification — despite admitting in court to driving while impaired.

Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo said a “blunder” during amendments to the Island’s drink driving laws had left out the mandatory 12 months’ disqualification.

Mr Tokunbo imposed a fine of $1,500 on Richard Spencer, of Palm Valley Road, Paget, after he pleaded guilty to driving an auxiliary cycle while impaired on April 21.

Spencer asked Magistrates’ Court for leniency, saying he needed to keep his licence for his accounting work — and stood to lose his job and his apartment if banned from the road.

Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Carrington Mahoney said officers pulled Spencer over at 3.40am on South Shore in Paget near Bellevue Drive after noticing him swerving across the centre line of the road.

He denied drinking, but they arrested him after noticing a strong scent of alcohol, and that his speech was slurred.

“I’m deeply sorry for making a stupid mistake — I always take a taxi,” Spencer told the court.

A charge of refusing to comply with an order to give a sample of breath had been dropped against Spencer, in light of his guilty plea to impaired driving.

Mr Tokunbo fined him, with 30 days to pay — causing a visibly surprised Mr Mahoney pointed out that driving while impaired carried an obligatory 12 months off the road.

The magistrate replied: “That’s what it used to be. The law has been amended. They made a blunder.”

Changes to the law that went into effect in October “left out the obligatory element for impaired driving”.

If Spencer had pleaded guilty to refusing the breath test, he would have been handed a mandatory disqualification, Mr Tokunbo added.

Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building houses Bermuda's Magistrates' Courts (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published April 24, 2013 at 9:20 am (Updated April 24, 2013 at 9:20 am)

Legal ‘blunder’ allows impaired motorist to keep licence

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