Banned driver spared jailed after being caught behind the wheel on the Northern Spire and again weeks later

A woman is starting a new driving ban after twice being caught at the wheel of a BMW while serving a three-year drink-drive disqualification.

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 7:00 am
Danielle Hanson, 34, of Hurstwood Road, Barnes Park, Sunderland, was stopped by police on Sunderland’s Northern Spire Bridge October 18.

Danielle Hanson, 34, of Hurstwood Road, Barnes Park, Sunderland, told police her original 2017 ban had been shortened by magistrates after she had pleaded for a reduction.

But, court records showed the single mum-of-two’s appeal had been listed but she had failed to appear for the hearing.

Hanson, who used to be in the Royal Navy, has now avoided a possible minimum 12-week jail term but instead she has been handed a fresh 18-month ban and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.

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Magistrates in South Tyneside warned her that she would likely be imprisoned if she is caught again during her new disqualification period.

Hanson was stopped by police on Sunderland’s Northern Spire Bridge October 18, and weeks later at Pendle Green – just yards from her home - on December 8.

Prosecutor Lesley Burgess said: “Ms Hanson was given a 36-month ban on April 4, 2017, for her second offence of driving with excess alcohol.

“On both of the driving while disqualified occasions she was seen driving by police and stopped by police.

“Checks showed that she was disqualified and had no policy of insurance for driving on both occasions.

“She said that she had attended Sunderland Magistrates’ Court to ask for her licence back early.

“It was dismissed when Ms Hanson didn’t attend. The disqualification period remained in place.

“It’s a shocking record for driving while disqualified and for driving with excess alcohol.”

Chris Wilson, defending Hanson, who pleaded guilty to two charges of driving while banned and two of driving without insurance, said she had been “confused”.

He added: “Ms Hanson says she had attended court and believed her licence had been returned.

“On October 18, she endeavoured to explain to the officers that her licence had been returned to her, but unfortunately it hadn’t.

“She continued to drive with the belief that she was allowed to drive, hence the second offence.

“For many years, Ms Hanson was in the Royal Navy and led a structured life.

“Often, many people who were in the Forces struggle with their lives and have to make their own decisions.

“There’s genuine remorse about driving the motor vehicle. She does have a future and wants to make changes.

“I would urge you to hand Ms Hanson an olive branch, she is willing to grasp that olive branch.”

Tony Hewison, chairman of the bench, said: “There seems to be a repetition of driving while disqualified. We trust the court record.

“You were stopped on October 18 and told by the police that you were disqualified. Surely you should have twigged.”

Hanson was also handed an 18-month community order and must complete 20 days of rehabilitation work with the Probation Service.

The order also compels her to complete 19 sessions of the Thinking Skills programme, and the magistrates ordered her to pay a £90 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

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