Efidijius Sakalauska, a 24 year old lorry driver, went on a night-time drive in order to track down his girlfriend who had recently dumped him and propose a reconciliation. Unfortunately for him, he did so after having a few too many drinks and, when stopped by the police blew 54 ‘in breath’ (meaning that his blood alcohol level was above the proscribed limit of 35mg in 100ml of breath).
He pleaded guilty to drink driving on 27th October 2013 and received a mandatory disqualification (14 months, slightly above the minimum of 12). After his sentencing he raised a good question with the magistrates – given that he is homeless, can he still live in the car?
The chair of the bench answered in the affirmative ‘‘We have heard you sleep in your car, but that is no excuse to drive it so do not be tempted.’
That is right. There is an offence of driving whilst disqualified, but this only applies if you’re driving (law isn’t always rocket science).
Mr Sakalauska needs to be a bit careful mind. It is not just a criminal offence to drive whilst over the limit, you are also guilty if you are ‘in charge’ of a car after having had too much. Fortunately for Mr Sakalauska, there is a defence if ‘the circumstances were such that there was no likelihood of his driving the vehicle whilst the proportion of alcohol in his breath, blood or urine remained likely to exceed the prescribed limit.
If he’s in the back seat having a kip surrounding by his personal effects, keys in the glove compartment, then he should be ok…
Another issue relates to insurance. Normally, we talk about ‘driving without insurance’ but the actual offence is ‘using’ a motor vehicle on a road without insurance. Just leaving a car on a road requires insurance, even if there is no intention of driving it (see, amongst other cases, Adams v Evans (1971) where a car with no axle or rear wheels that was parked in a cul-de-sac was still held as requiring insurance).
Mr Sakalauska would be advised to find a private place to park the car (the law only applies to a road or public place) whilst he is disqualified. He better get someone else to drive it there though …