Petty Officer was more than twice the legal limit

A ROYAL NAVY officer has been fined and banned after being found at the wheel of his car in his Highland home town with more than twice the legal drinks limit in his system.

Petty Officer Darren Sutherland, 27, made a second appearance at Wick Sheriff Court, yesterday, having admitted being in charge of the vehicle with excess alcohol, when he made an initial appearance from custody, on Monday.
Sutherland. who is based at HM Naval Base, Clyde, Faslane, was fined £500 and disqualified from driving for a year –his second drinks-related conviction.
The offence, which could affect his £2,800-a-month post, after tax and insurance, occurred in the early hours of Saturday while he was north on leave, at the weekend.
David Barclay, prosecuting, said that police officers on patrol, came across the serviceman, around 5.20am, asleep at the wheel of his stationary car, with its engine running and headlights on, in the Harrowhill area of Wick.
The senior fiscal depute continued: “His speech was slurred and the pupils of his eyes were dilated. The accused volunteered the information that he had been drinking and the usual procedures were carried out.” Further tests revealed a breath alcohol limit of 78 micrograms-the limit is 35mgs.
Sutherland’s previous conviction, in 2004, was for drinks driving.
Neil Wilson, for the accused, stressed that the current offence was one of being in-charge with excess alcohol, but added: “I can’t hand on heart say he would not have driven the car while over the limit.”
The solicitor went on to say his client, had been in the Royal Navy for 11 years, and had instructed him not to say anything further about the circumstances leading up to the offence. Sutherland travels home to his fiancé and family at 3 Grant Street, Wick,at weekends.
Mr Wilson added: “He is not quite sure what affect the offence will have on his career but it will certainly be a black mark on his record.”
Mr Wilson, who emphasised that there was no question of Sutherland having an underlying drink problem, referred to the ‘devastating’ effect disqualification would have on the social and domestic front, and make Sutherland's weekend travel home, particularly difficult.
Sheriff Andrew Berry said that while the length of disqualification was discretionary on this type of charge, Sutherland had a previous conviction and the current offence involved a high reading.
Sutherland indicated he would be interested in taking the drinks drivers’ rehabilitation course, which, if successfully completed, would earn him a reduction in disqualification of three months.