Serial drink driver from South Tyneside given road ban after refusing to be breathalysed

A serial drink driver has been banned from the roads for three years after refusing to be breath tested when suspected of motoring in South Tyneside after boozing.
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Steven Austin, 38, must also pay giant fines and court costs of almost £2,700 for his no blow show and two other crimes arising from his arrest on Sunday, April 23 last year.

Austin, of Old Foundry Court, Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, was stopped by police as he drove on the A194 Leam Lane dual carriageway, between Hebburn and South Shields.

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The defendant, who was living in Chuter Ede View, Whiteleas, gave a positive roadside breath test but at a police station claimed a medical condition meant he could not give two follow-up samples.

He pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to provide a sample for analysis but was found guilty by magistrates in Sunderland at a trial he failed to attend in September.

The case was dealt with at South Tyneside Magistrates Court.The case was dealt with at South Tyneside Magistrates Court.
The case was dealt with at South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

The court issued a warrant for his arrest, so he could be sentenced, but he moved address and was not picked up by police until Sunday, March 17.

At South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, prosecutor Paul Anderson said Austin had convictions for drink driving in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010 and for failing to provide in 2014.

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Mr Anderson added: “He knew the trial date because he was at court when the trial date was fixed.

“His car was on the A194, heading towards South Shields. The vehicle was stopped by police and a roadside breath test was positive. He was the driver.

“They took him to the police station, and he failed to provide. He said he had COPD but a nurse was of the view he could provide. He was charged.”

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Austin was also charged with driving without a licence, to which he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

At his latest court hearing, the heavy plant operator also pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to surrender to custody.

Defending himself, Austin said he knew the trial had gone ahead but added: “I thought it had gone in my favour.”

He said he had moved to Northumberland to start a new life and did not know police were looking for him until they turned up on his doorstep.

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For failing to provide, he was fined £1,200, with £620 court costs and a £480 victim surcharge and banned.

He was fined £266 for absconding, with a £106 victim surcharge, with no penalty for driving without insurance.