Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED June 23, 2003

Where the respondent had been convicted of driving with excess alcohol and had driven erratically for one mile, over the speed limit and in a built up area, the magistrates' court decision that there were special reasons not to disqualify him from driving was perverse and irrational.Appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions ('DPP') by way of case stated against a magistrates' court decision that there were special reasons not to disqualify the respondent ('C') from driving following his conviction for driving whilst the level of alcohol in his blood exceeded the prescribed limit. C had driven for one mile, partly through a town centre, and had been speeding and driving erratically. On appeal the DPP argued that the magistrates had: (i) placed too much reliance on the purported "shortness" of the distance driven and that a distance of one mile was too far to support a finding of special reasons; (ii) wrongly relied on the fact that C's passenger suffered from a condition that rendered it difficult for her to walk when C himself had not relied on that fact; and (iii) in all the factual circumstances reached a finding that was perverse and irrational.HELD: (1) The decision of the magistrates had been perverse and irrational. C's driving had put pedestrians at risk. The only conclusion open to the magistrates in the proper exercise of their discretion was that there were no special reasons for refusing to disqualify him (Chatters v Burke (1986) 3 All ER 168 and R v Wickens (1958) 42 Crim App Rep 236 considered). (2) It followed that no reasonable bench properly directing itself in law could have found that special reasons existed. (3) The decision would be quashed and the case remitted with a direction to disqualify C.Appeal allowed.