A POLISH man who was nearly twice the legal limit when he was picked up by police told magistrates in Harrogate that he hadn’t been driving.
Instead, claimed Jacek Skomra, a friend called ‘Terry’ had disappeared into the brush at the side of the motorway just moments before police pulled over on November 18 last year.
The 46-year-old, of Ash Terrace in West Carnforth in south Durham, made his claim before magistrates in Harrogate last Friday, where he was to be sentenced for drink driving.
Despite pleading not guilty at an earlier hearing, he had been found guilty in his absence after failing to attend his trial.
Magistrates heard how police were called to reports that a man was waving down cars on the Northbound carriageway of the A1, after the blue Ford Focus he was travelling in ran out of petrol.
Simon Ostler, prosecuting, said that Skomra had clearly been drinking and despite a police search of the area, no-one else was found.
“He was swaying and his speech was slurred,” said Mr Ostler. Furthermore, he said, the keys to the car were found in Mr Skomra’s own pocket.
“He told the officer his friend ‘Terry’ had been driving the car but had disappeared. When a search was made of the area no-one was located.”
Tests showed Mr Skomra’s blood alcohol level was 64 microgrammes of alcohol per 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35.
Helen Howard, defending, pleaded with magistrates not to revoke his license, saying that it was “imperative” to his job as a heavy plant driver.
“He maintains his innocence,” she said. “Without his license, he would certainly lose his job. Mr Skomra will suffer greatly from a disqualification.”
Magistrates, led by chairman Canon Keith Punshon, decided to disqualify Skomra from driving for 17 months.
He was fined £150, told he must pay a further £150 towards costs and a £15 victim surcharge. He was also offered a place on a drink-driver rehabilitation course.