Driver who refused to be breath tested was trying to 'defeat the machine' court told

A roofer who refused to be legally breath tested after driving a car in Washington which could not reverse has avoided being jailed.

Paul Munro, 40, sucked on a breathalyser tube instead of blowing in a bid to “defeat the machine” at a police station, a court heard.

At the roadside earlier, Munro, of Framlington Place, Spital Tongues, Newcastle, had given a reading almost three times the limit, leading to his arrest.

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South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard his stunted second effort was a deliberate failure to comply with a valid police request.

South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

Munro pleaded guilty to failing to provide a sample for analysis, leading magistrates to order a custodial band all-options report, following which they banned him from driving for 20 months, with 80 hours of unpaid work.

Prosecutor Jonathan Stirland said Munro was seen at the wheel on the A195 Northumberland Way, near Sulgrave, at 11pm on Sunday, December 18.

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He added: “The officer was traveling in the opposite direction. The defendant’s vehicle had damage to a wheel.

“As the officer approached, the vehicle’s reverse lights came on, but the vehicle was only moving slowly backwards. It couldn’t reverse because of damage to the wheel.

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“The defendant’s vehicle came to a complete stop, but the engine was still running.

“Mr Munro got out of the driver’s seat and walked towards the police vehicle. The officer could smell intoxicants, and his speech was slurred.

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“He gave a roadside breath test, which showed 94mcg of alcohol. He was arrested on suspicion of driving over the limit and taken to Southwick police station.

“The normal drink drive process was explained. He indicated he would comply but then he failed to comply.

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“He was sucking on the tube and would not do the sample properly. The officers were of the opinion he was taking the proverbial.

“He was seeking to obstruct the process. He was trying to defeat the machine.”

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Angus Westgarth, defending, said Munro’s dire financial straits meant he could not afford a taxi home after drinking.

He added: “He made two bad mistakes, to drink and then to drive when his lift fell through.

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“He looked at his bank account and didn’t have the money for a taxi. He should have tried to contact family or friends.”

Munro’s unpaid work hours were imposed as part of an 18-month community order which includes 25 rehabilitation days.

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He must pay a £114 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.