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Drunk hit-and-run driver who hit cyclist was on bail for previous drink driving offence

Sonal Shah was four and a half times over the legal limit when she hit cyclist from behind, breaking the rider's leg...

A drunk driver who crashed into a cyclist while four-and-a-half times over the legal limit for alcohol then fled the scene was on bail for a previous drink-driving offence, a court has heard.

The cyclist sustanined injuries including a broken leg when she was struck behind by Sonal Shah, who was driving a Land Rover Freelander, near Steyning, West Sussex on 13 November last year, reports The Argus.

When police tracked down Shah's vehicle near to the scene of the crash and breath-tested her, she was found to have a reading of 153 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

The legal limit is 35 micrograms  per 100 millilitres of breath.

Worthing Magistrates' Court heard that Shah is undertaking treatment for mental health issues and alcohol addiction.

She was handed a 17-week suspended sentence and told to undertake 120 hours of unpaid work as well as 10 rehabilitation sessions with the probation service.

PC Ant Baker, of the Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: “We hope this sentencing serves as a warning to anyone who thinks about driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

“It is a serious offence with serious consequences and we will actively target those road users who choose to put others at risk.”

A Sussex Police spokesperson added: “Drink and drug-driving is one of the five most common causes of fatal and serious injury collisions on our roads, along with speeding, mobile phone use, not wearing a seatbelt and careless driving.

“We will continue to work with partners, providing education and enforcement 365 days a year, in a bid to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads, and to crack down on offenders.

“If you’re prepared to drive under the influence of drink or drugs, prepare to face the consequences.”

Shah was also banned from driving for five years.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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32 comments

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OldRidgeback | 2 years ago
2 likes

Another appalling case of a driver with repeat behaviour patterns. Unless the driver can deal with these internal demons, the licence should not be returned or similar incidents are almost inevitable.

In Germany if someone is caught drink driving, they are tested for alcohol in their system before their licence can be returned. If they show signs of persistent alcohol abuse, they don't get the licence back until they can address the issue. While the UK does better than Germany in many ways in terms of road safety, this is one legal aspect I think we should adopt here. I'd suggest it should become universal in all countries in fact.

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Awavey replied to OldRidgeback | 2 years ago
1 like

How does Germany prevent such drivers just ignoring driving bans though ?. That's the issue in the UK, a driver who persistently breaks the law, isnt going to comply with a banning order.

In fact I think there was a case last year drunk driver went to court,found guilty, instant ban from driving, walked out the court got in their car and drove home.

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OldRidgeback replied to Awavey | 2 years ago
0 likes

For those drivers who abuse the system, I don't think there's much that can be done apart from giving thema  custodial sentence. Some people are so irresponsible that they shouldn't be allowed to driver, ever. But there are those who just won't stop.

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Awavey replied to OldRidgeback | 2 years ago
0 likes

I was just curious if there was a different attitude towards driving bans in Germany, or a different way they are policing it, that meant they could be more effective as a deterrant.

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Hirsute replied to Awavey | 2 years ago
2 likes
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hawkinspeter replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
3 likes
hirsute wrote:

https://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/19047170.man-tried-drive-home-court-...

They just extended his ban - it'd make far more sense to just have instant prison sentence for driving whilst banned.

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Awavey replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
3 likes

"...who has 38 convictions for 69 offences, had previously received a three-year jail term in 2007 for driving while disqualified..."

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Jenova20 | 2 years ago
5 likes

"PC Ant Baker, of the Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: “We hope this sentencing serves as a warning to anyone who thinks about driving under the influence of drink or drugs."

 

What sentence? You gave her a f*cking slap on the wrist AGAIN. This driver should not be on the road. She's going to kill someone, and even then she probably won't get a decent sentence. PC Ant Baker can't seriously think this is a good outcome.

 

Heck, with "sentences" like this it's no wonder people reoffend.

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STiG911 | 2 years ago
4 likes

“We hope this sentencing serves as a warning to anyone who thinks about driving under the influence of drink or drugs."

What - a punitive slap, you mean?

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Velophaart_95 | 2 years ago
7 likes

Being banned for 5 years doesn't mean she won't actually drive.....She's already shown disregard for the law, what's to say she won't again?

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brooksby | 2 years ago
8 likes

It’s Never a “Bicycle Accident”

https://slate.com/business/2021/03/shawn-bradley-bicycle-hit-by-car.html

Quote:

... the term “bicycle accident” to describe someone getting hit by a car is particularly egregious.

...

That’s not a bike accident any more than getting bit by a shark is a swimming accident.

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caw35ride | 2 years ago
4 likes

Courts need to stop using the term "cyclist". Maybe we all do.

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Captain Badger replied to caw35ride | 2 years ago
3 likes
caw35ride wrote:

Courts need to stop using the term "cyclist". Maybe we all do.

Quite. "Cyclists" are not human beings, and in any case mode of transport is irrelevant  when you've been put in hospital by a t0sser

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Jenova20 replied to caw35ride | 2 years ago
2 likes
caw35ride wrote:

Courts need to stop using the term "cyclist". Maybe we all do.

I recall an Australian (?) study which established that people don't consider "cyclists" to be human,  and instead argued for a different wording to make them safer. "People on bikes" perhaps?

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Runningwolf | 2 years ago
5 likes

These paltry sort of sentences dished out by our legal system just prove what is thought of cyclists by society.  What with this driver given a 17 week suspended sentence for taking out a cyclist, and the one I read on this site recently where a role model citizen stamped on a female cyclists head recieved an 18 weeks suspended sentence, it makes me wonder if its about time serious thoughts by those in power were given to the more vulnerabe road users of our society, and more severe sentences given, to act as a warning.  I believe we need to change peoples behaviour in relation to more vulnerable road users and the only way to do that is through tougher sentening.  

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Sriracha replied to Runningwolf | 2 years ago
3 likes
Runningwolf wrote:

I believe we need to change peoples behaviour in relation to more vulnerable road users and the only way to do that is through tougher sentening.

Whilst I understand the sentiment, and agree that the sentencing does not fit the crime, I disagree strongly that tougher sentencing is the answer. Which of us holds back from battering someone, or from thieving, or whatever, principally in fear of the punishment? It's largely your own values that dictate that you do not act in those ways. Low crime societies do not come about just by locking up all the crims until none are left at large.

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hawkinspeter replied to Sriracha | 2 years ago
3 likes

I agree, I think it's the fear of getting caught/found out that is providing the biggest deterrent. As a social species, most of us will change our behaviour so that our peers don't think poorly of us and shun us, which translates to the fear of prosecution. It's difficult to comprehend the difference between e.g. a one year prison sentence and a five year prison sentence - most people get as far as just wanting to avoid prison and the amount of time is almost irrelevant.

With driving offences, I think there should be known offences that remove someone's license for a period of time. Caught over the limit for drink driving and it's an immediate one year driving ban as well as the usual penalties. Driving whilst using the phone should be something like a one month immediate driving ban. Anyone caught driving whilst banned (which should be easy enough to detect with ANPR cameras) gets an automatic prison sentence and a lifetime driving ban.

Not everyone is suited to driving on today's congested streets so let's reduce the traffic a bit by getting rid of the low hanging fruit.

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wycombewheeler replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
0 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

Anyone caught driving whilst banned (which should be easy enough to detect with ANPR cameras) gets an automatic prison sentence and a lifetime driving ban.

I understand contempt of court generally attracts a custodial sentance, I don't see why driving while disqualified is not the same.

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eburtthebike replied to Sriracha | 2 years ago
5 likes
Sriracha][Quote=Runningwolf wrote:

.....I disagree strongly that tougher sentencing is the answer.

Which is what all the data shows.  The answer isn't longer prison sentences, it's making the likelihood of being caught much higher.  In unrelated news, our government is pursuing exactly the opposite policy, by increasing potential sentences.  I for one, am much reassured that they are so informed and wise.*

 

*May contain huge great dollops of irony.

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Captain Badger replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago
2 likes
eburtthebike]</p>

<p>[quote=Sriracha

wrote:
Runningwolf wrote:

.....I disagree strongly that tougher sentencing is the answer.

Which is what all the data shows.  The answer isn't longer prison sentences, it's making the likelihood of being caught much higher.  In unrelated news, our government is pursuing exactly the opposite policy, by increasing potential sentences.  I for one, am much reassured that they are so informed and wise.*

 

*May contain huge great dollops of irony.

I remember reading that this is why the death penalty is ineffective (apart from being iniquitous and downright abhorrent). People aren't thinking about consequence, but are scared of getting caught. That is not to say that sentencing isn't important, more than you can have as stiff sentences as you like, if the perceived chance of being caught is hovering around zero you may as well not bother.

In this case, clearly, any sentencing must take into prioritise public safety and rehabilitation rather than punishment per se. In my view that is exactly what sentencing should prioritise in all cases.

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Carior replied to Runningwolf | 2 years ago
4 likes

I am inclined to agree - its amazing how improper conduct whilst driving a motor vehicle seems to be accepted. Its laughable that the police think this will be a deterrent - I mean seriously - an individual already on probation for drink driving, knocks someone off a bike whilst drink driving AGAIN and does even end up getting a custodial sentence? I appreciate this lady appears to have substance abuse issues but seriously??????

What's more amazing is that you compare this with the approach to treatment of cyclists in the courts on the very rare occasions cyclists cause harm to other road users and its night and day.  Get around in an inherently dangerous vehicle and behave like crap breaking the law its ok, be anything less than 100% compliants on your bike and end up in incident and get thrown under the bus!!!

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HoarseMann | 2 years ago
6 likes

I wonder how far over the limit she was the first time she was caught? Surely there's a point where you should lose your licence instantly, pending the court case?

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ktache replied to HoarseMann | 2 years ago
3 likes

Doesn't seem to happen.

Driving innit...

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stonechat | 2 years ago
7 likes

That's not a sentence

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brooksby replied to stonechat | 2 years ago
9 likes
stonechat wrote:

That's not a sentence

No: you haven't used a full stop.

This is a sentence.

 3

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0-0 | 2 years ago
5 likes

As soon as I read the title, I know there would be a suspended sentence mentioned. Why do the Police even bother arresting them? They're just wasting their time.

Bring back vigilantly justice I say. I’ve sharpened my pitchfork and lit the torch 😀

 

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eburtthebike | 2 years ago
7 likes

"PC Ant Baker, of the Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: “We hope this sentencing serves as a warning to anyone who thinks about driving under the influence of drink or drugs."

No, it won't.

“It is a serious offence with serious consequences......."

Clearly it isn't and they aren't.

At least she was banned for five years.

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Stilton replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago
8 likes

Some mention of the poor bloody cyclist would have been nice too

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the little onion | 2 years ago
22 likes

So whilst on bail for an offence, she commits the same offence, then only gets a suspended sentence? And she can be back driving on the roads in 5 years? Lifetime ban is warranted here.

 

“If you’re prepared to drive under the influence of drink or drugs, prepare to face the consequences.”

Frankly, the consequences of daubing some paint on a statue of a slave trader are more severe than repeatedly driving around pissed as a fart and crippling people. 

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geomannie 531 replied to the little onion | 2 years ago
4 likes

Exactly so

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