Shopkeeper caught drink-driving on mid-morning fast food run

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A Wolstanton man who spent the night drinking with fellow shopkeepers has been given a 12-month driving ban after he was found to be over the limit at 10.20am the following day on a breakfast run to McDonald’s.

Murugesu Sivakumar pleaded guilty to drink driving but his solicitor claimed a driving ban could have “potentially catastrophic” consequences for the man’s two businesses.

Sivakumar told magistrates at the North Staffs Justice Centre that he felt he was ‘perfectly fit’ to drive on the morning of 3 June.

The father of three, from High Street, Wolstanton, had been drinking with friends the night before he was breathalysed by police at a petrol station on the way to pick up a McDonald’s breakfast for his family.

Mr Sivakumar’s solicitor told the court that although his client was over the limit, he had not been pulled over for dangerous, “untoward” driving and was completely unaware that the alcohol was still in his system.

The court was also told of the “extreme worry” felt by Sivakumar, who owns two shops which are struggling due to online shopping and local competition.

The magistrates reviewing the case heard how the shopkeeper regularly makes trips to Birmingham to buy products at a cheaper rate, sells beer at a loss because he can’t compete with supermarket prices and is facing a “sad and unfortunate downward spiral”.

The 47-year-old shop owner looked visibly distressed as his solicitor pleaded with magistrates to allow his client a delay in repaying the financial penalties imposed as a result of the driving offence.

According to his solicitor, Sivakumar had planned to visit his elderly father in Sri Lanka who is suffering from illness, stressing this may be his client’s last opportunity to do so.

When reading out his verdict, the magistrate advised that Sivakumar would have be able to begin repayments at a later date but reminded the shopkeeper that an “offence is still an offence” and imposed a 12-month driving ban.

Due to pleading guilty at the first opportunity, Mr Sivakumar was offered the chance to participate in a drink drivers’ rehabilitation programme, in order to reduce the length of his driving ban to nine months.

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