A man disqualified for life from driving, but was found driving dangerously while under the influence of alcohol, has been sent to jail.
San Fernando Magistrate Natalie Diop told Keron Duncan that the streets needed to be protected from those who choose to abuse the law.
Duncan, 33, of La Romaine, was charged with driving in a manner dangerous to the public; driving while being permanently disqualified from holding or obtaining a valid driver’s permit; driving without a certificate of insurance; and driving while 30 microgrammes over the legal 35 microgramme limit. Charges were laid by Constable Coomansingh.
The court heard that at 8.25 p.m. last Friday, officers were on mobile patrol duty along Dumfries Road, San Fernando when they were passed by a car swerving at a high speed. The officers chased and stopped the vehicle.
Duncan was asked for his driving particulars and admitted: “I get disqualified two to three months now.” The scent of alcohol was detected on his breath and his speech was slurred and eyes red. Duncan said he drank two beers and some puncheon. Breathalyser tests revealed a reading of 65 microgrammes.
Defence attorney Sheena Hassanali told the court her remorseful client recognised he had an issue with alcohol and had attended three Alcoholics Anonymous classes a year ago.
She said when he was stopped last Friday, he was heading for medication for his daughter who was feeling unwell.
Hassanali said Duncan drove in the manner he did because of the urgency of his daughter’s health issue and also because he panicked as he knew that he was driving while disqualified.
She said he was the sole breadwinner in the home and he was willing to seek rehabilitation.
She admitted that Duncan had similar matters in the past, the last being December 2018.
Diop said his criminal background showed that he was fined $20,000 last December for failing to supply a specimen of his breath for testing and was permanently disqualified.
In January 2017, Duncan was also fined and disqualified from driving for three years.
In March of the previous year, he was fined $4,000 for driving while under the influence of alcohol. In passing sentence, Diop considered his multiple convictions and disqualifications for the same type of offences and also said the court could not turn a blind eye to the manner in which he drove. She told him he may need assistance as it related to his alcohol consumption. She also said the court is under a duty to ensure that the roads are kept safe.
She added: “In circumstances where the police act once they have detected an infraction of dangerous criminal conduct such as this, the court is also under a duty to act in accordance with the law.” She said she was mindful of his family’s situation but she also had to consider that “innocent users of the roadway have a right to be protected from people who choose to abuse the laws”.
Duncan was sentenced to 18 months’ hard labour for driving while under the influence of alcohol. He was again permanently disqualified from having a driver’s permit.
He was also sentenced to four months’ hard labour on each of the other three charges.
The sentences are to run concurrently and Duncan will serve 18 months in prison. Duncan also faced the charge of possession of marijuana. He entered a plea of not guilty and Diop placed him on $10,000 bail. This matter will next be called on September 16.