Drink-drive conviction quashed over 'unused road' claim

A driver stopped on a "rarely used" road in Norfolk and found to be twice the legal limit has had a drink-driving conviction quashed by the High Court.

Ian Hallett, of New Costessey, was convicted in December 2009 of driving with excess alcohol on an unmade road.

Norwich magistrates rejected a claim it was a "service road" not in public use and not covered by drink-drive laws.

But Mrs Justice Rafferty, sitting in London, allowed the appeal by Hallett and ordered the bench to acquit him.

The judge said it was "not in issue" that Hallett had a breath alcohol reading which was over twice the legal limit.

But there was no evidence that members of the public, other than local residents and a few others, used the road.

Hallett had been stopped by a police officer who carried out the breathalyser test and photographed the area.

'Not a road'

He told the court that he had never seen a member of the public using the service road, and there was no need for them to do so.

Another local resident gave evidence that, in 16 years, he had never seen a member of the public using it.

He said it would be stupid to do so as its potholed surface would damage their cars.

A "private road" sign had been erected by the time the case went before Norwich magistrates.

Magistrates said the road had been open to the public.

Mrs Justice Rafferty ruled that, because there was no evidence of actual public use before the bench, "a reasonable tribunal" could not have found the service road was "a road or public place" as defined by the Road Traffic Act 1988.

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