Belper coach driver twice the legal limit banned

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Reading of 67 micrograms in 100 millilitres of breath leads to 21-month ban, on top of magistrates-imposed six-month 

A coach driver has admitted that he would have taken passengers on a trip to Snowdonia when he was twice the legal limit – if his back problems had not prevented him from driving.

Roy Marklew, of Whitehouse Rise, Belper, told a Deputy Traffic Commissioner (DTC) Simon Evans that he had planned to drive on the morning of April 22 this year, after drinking six or seven pints of lager and two large glasses of wine the day before.

The DTC said Mr Marklew he had shown an “appalling lack of judgement.” He concluded that Mr Marklew was not fit to hold a professional driving licence for buses, coaches or HGVs and disqualified him for 21 months.

Mr Marklew was banned from driving for six months after Llandudno

Magistrates’ Court found him guilty of being in charge of a motor coach when his alcohol level was above the prescribed driving limit. He was also fined £360.

The DTC’s decision, which comes into force after the court-imposed ban expires, follows a conduct hearing where Mr Marklew’s fitness to drive professionally was called into question. The incident was referred to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner by North Wales Police after the force encountered Mr Marklew in a vehicle with the engine running. After a screening sample revealed Mr Marklew was over the legal limit, he was arrested and gave further readings at the police station. The lower of these revealed a level of alcohol in his breath of 67 micrograms in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 micrograms.

During the conduct hearing in Golborne on September 8, Mr Marklew said his decision was a big mistake and explained that the incident and subsequent attention had had wide ranging effects on his life. His position with the coach firm had been terminated and he was concerned about his future employment prospects, having been a coach driver for 20 years.

Reviewing the evidence, the DTC concluded that Mr Marklew had been open in his evidence and there was no attempt to minimise the incident or his responsibility. However, he added that a key part of a professional driver’s conduct was knowing when they were unfit to drive a vehicle, especially when carrying passengers.

Mr Evans said: “In my view the travelling public would be scandalised if they thought that a regulator of the coach and bus industry could take the view that anything other than strong disciplinary action would be taken against a professional driver in these circumstances.

“Because of the consumption of alcohol there would have been a serious reduction in his driving competence and he could have placed passengers and others at risk of serious injury, even death.”

Mr Marklew agreed with the DTC that he would refer himself to a drink driving rehabilitation course. With proof of his attendance, Mr Evans said the disqualification order would be reduced from 21 to 14 months.