Legal Eagle: Why Ant McPartlin was fined so heavily for drink-driving

TV presenter Anthony McPartlin, centre, outside The Court House in Wimbledon, London, after being fined �86,000 at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court after admitting driving while more than twice the legal alcohol limit.
TV presenter Anthony McPartlin, centre, outside The Court House in Wimbledon, London, after being fined �86,000 at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court after admitting driving while more than twice the legal alcohol limit.

I read that Ant McPartlin was recently fined £86,000 for drink-driving. This seems like an extraordinary amount of money. Is this level of fine normal?

Ant McPartlin was charged with an offence of excess alcohol driving, contrary to section 5 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. It was reported that following a breath test he provided a reading of 75 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

For a reading of 75mg, sentencing guidelines indicate a range of sentencing from what is known as a band C fine to a low-level community order.

Before the final sentence is determined, however, an assessment as to the overall seriousness of the offence will need to be undertaken including factors as to whether the offender has previous convictions, the number of pedestrians or traffic in the vicinity or whether any accident occurred.

A disqualification from driving for a period of 17 to 22 months is also indicated for this reading.

It is possible, given Mr McPartlin had already expressed his intention to undergo rehabilitative treatment for his alcohol difficulties, that the District Judge dealing with the case formed the view that a community order was unnecessary and for this reason imposed the fine.

Fines imposed on a perpetrator of drink-driving must be commensurate with the seriousness of the offence and the financial circumstances of the offender. Drink-driving fines are therefore calculated as a percentage of the offender’s relevant weekly income.

The guidelines are clear that a band C fine should equate to between 125 and 175% of the offender’s relevant weekly income.

It is reported that Ant McPartlin’s relevant weekly pay is approximately £130,000, therefore the fine imposed in this case could have been significantly higher.

In certain circumstances where the offending is deemed to be more serious the sentencing guidelines allow for band D, E and F fines, with the highest band F fine equating up to 700% of relevant weekly income.

It is interesting to compare this to the sentence received by footballer Wayne Rooney when he pleaded guilty to drink-driving at Stockport Magistrates’ Court late last year.

Mr Rooney received a £170 fine, 100 hours unpaid work and a 24-month disqualification from driving when he produced a breathalyser reading of 104 micrograms in 100 millilitres of breath. The District Judge in that case said that he didn’t feel that imposing a large fine would have the same effect in his case as a community order.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist Criminal Defence Solicitors. To speak to a solicitor please phone 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.