Van owner was drunk in charge

Eastbourne Hastings Bexhill Rye Battle Herald Observer

Eastbourne Hastings Bexhill Rye Battle Herald Observer

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A man from St Leonards found slumped over his steering wheel with the engine running while he was drunk could not be woken by police a court heard.

Officers were called after Stephen Grimes was found sat in the driving seat of his Citroen Berlingo van in Battle Road shortly before 10.45pm on 21 December.

At first they could not rouse the 49-year-old but eventually Grimes woke, admitted drinking and said he had started the car to keep warm before he had fallen asleep.

He was almost twice the drink-drive limit. He had already served a ban for drink-driving imposed in 1997.

Grimes, of Mildenhall Drive, St Leonards, pleaded guilty to being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle when he appeared at Hastings Magistrates’ Court on February 11.

He was given 10 points on his licence and ordered to pay a £400 fine, £85 costs and a £40 victim surcharge.

Chief inspector Phil Nicholas, of Surrey and Sussex roads policing unit, said: “The law is not simply that you cannot drive while drunk. You also cannot be in charge of a vehicle while over the limit, as Grimes was. This case shows that if you get into your car while drunk and start the engine you should expect to be prosecuted. Grimes now has 10 points on his licence so any offence could take him over the 12-point limit and see him being banned again. My advice to anyone who has been drinking is to stay away from the driving seat at all times.” People in Sussex can text officers on 65999 with the details of any suspected drink or drug drivers or visit www.operationcrackdown.co.uk.