By AZARD ALI Tuesday, April 14 2015
A SECOND chance was given to a kind hearted magistrate who instead of levying hefty fines, ordered 21 persons who appeared before her on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) counselling.
The accused persons were “fortunate” not to have come before San Fernando Magistrates Gloria Jasmath and Nalini Singh who last week dished out fines as high as $10,000 to dozens of persons who pleaded guilty to drunk driving.
The 21 appeared yesterday before magistrate Sherene Murray-Bailey and all pleaded guilty. She ordered that upon their completion of AA counselling sessions, they must return to her for mitigation and sentencing. It is the established practice that attending AA sessions mitigates sentences meaning lesser amounts of fines or even being reprimanded and discharged.
One of the persons appearing before Murray-Bailey, was Scott Foyer, charged with driving under the influence in which he was found to have an alcohol reading of 80 micrograms in his breath. The legal limit is 35 micrograms.
Foyer pleaded guilty and Murray-Bailey heard that on Saturday, he was spotted driving north along the south-bound lane of the Solomon Hochoy Highway. That was at 3.30 am, said court prosecutor Sgt Diniath Harricharan, during which other drivers were forced to pull onto the median. One such driver ran off the road. Foyer pleaded guilty and Murray-Bailey asked him if he would attend AA meetings to receive counselling on the effects of drinking and driving. He will return on May 28 for sentencing after completing the AA counselling, evidence of which must be presented to the courts by AA counsellors.
Several others appeared before the magistrate and after pleading guilty, were told they are to return to court on dates in May and June, pending their attendance at AA meetings. “You must consent to attending; I can’t force you,” Murray-Bailey said to the defendants.
The police officers stood behind the prosecutors, all whom were engaged in weekend breathalyser exercises at the intersection of the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway.
They were, Woman Police Constable Charlene Small-Maynard, PCs Shane Mahabir, John Hinds, Rishi Ramdass and Alex Mohammed of the Breathalyser Task Force.
Another driver, Ameer Subhan, who was over the limit by seven micrograms, was told by Murray-Bailey, that he should, on his own volition tell five or six friends of his, why they should not drink and drive. He is to return for sentencing on June 25.
There was the case of another driver, who appearing for the second occasion before a magistrate for drunk driving, told the magistrate that he would attend the AA meetings.
His sister was in court to stand his bail of $15,000 and upon completion of his counselling sessions, he is to return to court for mitigation and sentencing on June 25.