A MAN who was described by a police officer as the drunkest driver he had ever encountered has narrowly avoided a jail sentence.
The officer who pulled over Arturas Veselis’ van said also his driving was the most erratic he has witnessed in all his years of service.
The officer described him as hardly able to speak or walk and his eyes were glazed. He made no attempt to reply to the caution and when he did speak, his words made no senseRobert Lynch, prosecuting
How much booze Veselis had downed before getting behind the wheel will never be known as he refused to be breathalysed.
But the court heard he had paid a heavy price for his actions. He had been fired from his job as a driver and his wife and two daughters had subsequently returned to the family’s native Lithuania.
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard how the officers saw Veselis mount the curb before swerving onto the other side of the road on Church Lane in Lowton at around 5pm on October 20.
They pulled the white Mercedes van over and as they approached it they noticed a grinding sound.
They realised that Veselis was trying to put the van into gear and one of the officers had to lean in and take the keys out of the ignition.
The officer noted a that he could smell alcohol and spotted a bottle of vodka on the passenger seat.
Robin Lynch, prosecuting, said: “The officer described him as hardly able to speak or walk and his eyes were glazed. He made no attempt to reply to the caution and when he did speak, his words made no sense.”
Veselis, of Alexander Drive, Bolton, was arrested and taken to Wigan Police Station where he was asked to provide a breath test but refused.
Mr Lynch continued: “The officer said in all his years as an officer he had never seen a vehicle been driven so badly or a driver so drunk.
“He added that it was his honestly held belief that he prevented a serious accident by pulling the van over.”
The court heard that 30-year-old Veselis had been to visit a friend in Wigan who was a bit down and had drank two 4.8 per cent beers and around 200 milliliters of vodka with him in three hours.
He admitted having the bottle of vodka on his passenger seat but said he had not drunk any more while driving and thinks he was affected by the alcohol because he had not eaten anything that day.
He said he did not feel that drunk when he got in the van to drive home but admits that with hindsight he was over the limit.
He can not remember being pulled over or why he refused to give a sample but says that his behaviour was as a result of being drunk.
The court was told that Veselis had lost his job and his wife and two daughters had been forced to move back to Lithuania because he was no longer able to support them without work.
Veselis told the court: “I am guilty. I am sorry. It has changed my whole world.”
He had pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to provide a specimen at a previous hearing and was given 18 weeks in custody suspended for 12 months and was disqualified from driving for 36 months.
The magistrates told him that it was a very serious offence and had it not been for his previous good character and early guilty plea, they would have given him an immediate custodial sentence of 26 weeks.
They said: “This is a very serious offence that could have had drastic conseqences.
“You were driving at a peak time when there was a lot of traffic and in a busy location. You’re behaviour towards the officers afterwards was atrocious.”