A drink-driving lorry driver claimed he may have been over the legal alcohol limit because he smoked two cigarettes before being breathalysed.
Shaun Davis, 42, was driving a seven-and-a-half-ton DAF truck when he was stopped by police on the A195 in Washington on May 16.
I had two cigarettes in the back of the police van. Was that affecting the reading – because I wasn’t allowing these cigarettes to diminish from my breath?Shaun Davis
The HGV driver has been banned from the roads for 40 months after a bench at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court found him guilty of driving with excess alcohol for the third time.
The case was heard in Davis’s absence after he failed to attend court, later claiming he had submitted a sick note, which the court had not received. Prosecutor Gary Fothergill said police officers saw the white vehicle being driven on the A195 Washington at 6am.
He said: “The officers followed him and noticed it was being driven erratically, swerving from side to side, clipping the central reservation.
“Davis failed a road-side breath test and was arrested.”
At the police station he recorded an alcohol reading of 42 microgrammes in 100ml of breath. The limit is 35.
The court heard Davis, of Quarry Road, Silksworth, has 27 convictions for 120 offences recorded against him, including two for driving with excess alcohol, dating back to 2006 and 1989.
Davis appeared in court for the sentencing hearing, arguing that the case should not have gone ahead in his absence because he had submitted a sick note.
Davis told the court: “The only reason I was going to go not guilty was I had two cigarettes in the back of the police van.
“Was that affecting the reading – because I wasn’t allowing these cigarettes to diminish from my breath?”
He said his last drink was early the previous evening.”
Davis asked the bench to suspend his driving disqualification pending an appeal hearing, but his application was refused.
He was also fined £180, with a £20 victim surcharge and £620 costs.