Man escapes driving ban after keeping warm in van

A SELF-EMPLOYED carpenter who sat in his van to keep warm in sub-zero temperatures after a night out drinking was spared a driving ban on Friday.

Gary John Nice, 28, of Market Lane, Lavenham, pleaded guilty to being in charge of a vehicle while above the drink-drive limit when he appeared before magistrates in Bury St Edmunds.

Prosecuting, Nikki Miller said that on December 18 a police officer and a special constable were on duty when they noticed a van with its lights on parked behind stationary vehicles in Northgate Street, Bury.

The van also appeared to be resting on the bumper of the vehicle in front so the police officer asked Nice to wind his window down.

As Nice did, she smelled alcohol on his breath.

She also noticed that his speech was slow and slurred and that he could barely keep his eyes open.

Mrs Miller said that Nice told the officer ‘I wasn’t going to drive, I was just keeping warm – I’m waiting for my mate’.

At about 2am Nice was asked to give a breath test which recorded 98 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the drink-drive limit is 35 microgrammes.

In mitigation, Anne Gray said that Nice had arranged to spend the night at a friend’s house in Northgate Street after attending a Christmas party.

He had parked outside the house earlier in the night and met up with his friend in a nightclub after the party finished.

But he lost his friend in the nightclub and decided he had had enough to drink so went back to the house, expecting his friend’s girlfriend to be home.

When no-one answered Nice got into his van and turned on the engine to get warm.

Mrs Gray said: “This is one of those very unfortunate happenings. It was the Saturday before Christmas when, you will recall, the whole country was suffering from sub zero temperatures.”

Nice was ordered to pay a £400 fine, costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £15. His licence was endorsed with 10 penalty points.