Introduction and Facts
Right. We are going to try and get through the whole of this without any cricket puns … Here we go –
On 3rd July 2015, Australian cricketer James Faulkner was out for dinner with some friends. This being Manchester, it was raining heavily, and so after weighing up his options, Mr Faulkner decided to avoid getting drenched in the mile walk back home and drove.
This, rather than getting a cab, proved a costly mistake as he was stopped by the Police and was found to be over the limit. On 5th August 2015, he was fined a whopping £10,000 for this. He also got a 2 year disqualification.
This level of fine is obviously far above than that which is normally imposed, but was it too high?
We don’t have the exact reading, but we are told that it was ‘nearly’ three times over the limit. The limit is 35 micrograms, so he was presumably around the 100 level.
There are Sentencing Guidelines for this (p124) and it would seem that Mr Faulkner was therefore in the 90-119 bracket. This gives a starting point of a Community Order, with a disqualification of 23-28 months.
The Judge said that “he ruled out an unpaid work community order or a curfew because it was “unworkable” in the defendant’s circumstances“, and so set the fine that way.
This was presumably a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity, so this reflects a fine of £15,000. This would appear to be too harsh a penalty in the circumstances. Although we don’t have details of Mr Faulkner’s means, as a professional sportsman he’s not badly off (though not in the same league as a footballer), but there has to be some kind of proportionality between the offence and the financial penalty.
After all, only a few months ago, the maximum fine would have been £5,000. We will have to see whether there is an appeal, but we would expect one, unless there are some unusual facts about the case that we are not aware of.