Drink-driver banned in two hours
A Lithuanian lorry driver was banned from the road for drink-driving just two hours after being charged because he appeared at a fast-track virtual court.
Romualdas Rocys, 48, was stopped by Kent Police at the Port of Dover on Tuesday evening after security staff saw his Scania articulated lorry being driven erratically.
Rocys' breath test showed he had 120 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.
He appeared at a magistrates' court from the police station via the virtual court system after he was charged with the offence at 9.21am and he pleaded guilty. By 11.35am, he was disqualified from driving for 36 months, fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £85 in costs.
Detective Inspector Bob Platt, from Kent Police, said: "Under normal circumstances a person would be bailed to return to court after being charged, this means that between the date of charge and the court appearance that person can drive their vehicle.
"By using the virtual court network a defendant can lose their licence on the same day as charge and therefore the chances of them being a danger on the roads and reoffending is limited.
"An HGV is a deadly weapon in the wrong hands and the consequences of driving a lorry whilst drunk are severe."
The virtual courts initiative began in May 2009 in London at Camberwell Green and in Kent. It has now been extended to Cheshire and Hertfordshire.
It allows a defendant, charged in a police station, to have their first hearing held over secure video link from the magistrates' court.
This can happen within hours of being charged and if the defendant pleads guilty, the court can often sentence on the same day.