Felixstowe painter and decorator convicted of drink-driving for third time

Drink-driver in court

Drink-driver in court - Credit: PA

A painter and decorator who was more than three times the alcohol limit when he committed his third drink-drive offence has been spared jail.

Michael Jones, of Longcroft, Felixstowe, pleaded guilty at South East Suffolk Magistrates driving with excess alcohol on February 6.

A breath test showed the 35-year-old had 117 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mcgs.

Prosecutor David Bryant said police had seen a Vauxhall van driving along Garrison Lane, Felixstowe, at around 12.15am on February 6.

They followed the vehicle, which was travelling at above the 30mph speed limit.

The court heard the van, being driven by Jones, swerved widely around parked cars before turning into St Andrew’s Road where it came to a halt.

When police spoke to Jones they could smell alcohol on his breath, his eyes were glazed and speech was slurred.

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District Judge Celia Dawson said Jones had been convicted of drink-driving in 2001 and 2008.

A probation officer who carried out a pre-sentence report on Jones told the court: “He feels absolutely gutted about what has happened. He realises he could have killed himself of someone else – ‘thank God he didn’t’ are his own words.

Jones was said to have been tired and stressed leading up to the incident and his health was being affected.

It was also said he had been to see a doctor about his drinking and has been told to stop consuming alcohol for health reasons.

Neil Saunders, representing Jones, said: “No matter what happens today this may save his life.”

Judge Dawson told Jones: “This is the third time you have driven over the limit since 2001. It’s a high reading. You put yourself in danger. To be honest I’m not too concerned about that. I’m more concerned about protecting the public.

“You richly deserve a custodial sentence.”

However, the judge said she was prepared to suspend a prison term as Jones had sought help for his drinking and he had impressed the probation service with his work ethic.

Jones was given five months’ imprisonment, suspended for a year. He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

In addition Jones was disqualified from driving for 42 months, and must pay a total of £145 in costs and a court surcharge.