Car’s ‘black box’ catches out drink-driver

editorial image

A DRINK-driver wrote off his £16,000 car in a crash before denying he had been behind the wheel to police – only for a ‘black box’ recorder in the vehicle to reveal his crime.

Thomas Foster had been out boozing with a pal when he got in his car to drive home and hit a curb and collided with a bollard on Coast Road in South Shields.

The 50-year-old fled the scene and returned home, but a telematic system fitted in his car – which tracks the movements of the vehicle – automatically alerted the police that an accident had taken place. When police noted the registration of the Citroen DS3, they found the address of registered keeper Foster.

The accident took place at about 10.30pm on December 13 of last year.

Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said: “Police attended the home address of Foster.

“He told them he had parked the car at the rear of his address and had been in all night with his partner.

“He then said he believed it must’ve been stolen and he must’ve left the keys in the car.

“Police could smell alcohol on his breath.”

Foster, of Alverthorpe Street in South Shields, said he had drunk alcohol in the house, including 
bottles of Budweiser and Jagermeisters.

But when police spoke to his partner, she said a friend had come to the address and Foster had gone out with him to the pub.

He then admitted he had two pints of lager at the Fountain pub, before having more drinks at the Chichester Arms, the Crab Shack and the New Crown Inn.

When breath-tested, he recorded a reading of 77mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – over two times above the limit of 35mcg.

Foster pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol and failing to report an accident to police at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

David Hatfield, defending, said: “Mr Foster simply panicked and tried to make up a story that would never have stood up.

“He would say that he is very embarrassed. It was silly of him to try to explain away the incident when the vehicle is fitted with a Telematic system, which is like a black box recording device in the car.

“It records the driving of the 
vehicle, for motor insurance purposes.

“It can be a good thing as it can reduce insurance costs.

“But if you get in an accident, it is reported to police straightaway.”

Harry Metcalfe, chairman of the magistrates, banned Foster from driving for 20 months.

He was fined £650 for the drink-driving offence and another £650 for the failure to report an accident.

He was also ordered to pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £65, making for a total court bill of £1,450.

Twitter: @shieldsgazchris