A company director who refused to give a breath test after being stopped for drink-driving now faces a mandatory road ban.
Simon Meredith, 53, was stopped at the wheel of his black Maserati Ghibli V6 Auto in Salford, Greater Manchester, after officers suspected he was speeding at around 12.35am on August 14.
When asked to give a roadside breath sample, the business coach, from Warrington, Cheshire, who had been drinking white wine that night, declined saying: ‘I do not understand’ before he was placed in handcuffs.
He was later charged with failing to provide a breath specimen and now faces a mandatory road ban.
At Tameside magistrates court Meredith, who previously ran a freight company, admitted the charge but claimed he had no idea refusing a breath test was an offence and accused officers of putting ‘pressure’ on him and asking if he ‘needed’ his sports.
Simon Meredith (pictured outside court), 53, was stopped at the wheel of his black Maserati in Salford, Greater Manchester, after officers suspected he was speeding on August 14
His lawyer Judith Hawkins said: ‘It is his case and in his mind he simply did not understand what was going on.
‘It is not the police officers fault, they have a script which they have to follow and police cannot actively assist people who come in contact with them in these circumstances.
‘He told them: ”I do not understand the circumstances about agreeing to provide a specimen”.
‘But he thought there was an alternative and he does not understand the implications of failing to provide.
‘It is fair to say he was put under pressure and he felt some sport was being made of his car. He was being asked what he did for a job and whether he needed his car for driving to and from his job.’
The incident occurred on August 14 2021 when a police patrol in Salford, Greater Manchester spotted the black Maserati coming towards them with the driver ‘appearing’ to drive at excess speed.
Officers followed and activated the emergency equipment and they spoke to Meredith, his eyes were said to be ‘glazed’ and he was a ‘little unsteady on his feet’ but could walk unaided.
Miss Hawkins told the hearing: ‘My client is a man with no previous convictions. He has a full clean driving license and drives many miles for his work. He comes here today knowing he has lost his good character.
‘On the night in question, he was driving his car to see his girlfriend and was not aware he doing anything wrong. I have watched the CCTV footage of the car and it is apparent that there was little or no pursuit at all.
He was charged with failing to provide a breath specimen and now faces a mandatory road ban
The business coach, from Warrington, Cheshire, admitted the charge but claimed he had no idea refusing a breath test was an offence
‘He found a place where he could safely stop. He may or may not have been speeding although the police had to speed up to catch up to him.
What is the law around road side breath tests?
The police can stop drivers at any time and ask them to take a breath test.
If a driver refuses to take a breath test or fails to supply a sample they can be arrested.
A motorist must have a ‘reasonable excuse’ if they cannot provide a sample. This could be a physical or mental condition stopping them from providing a sample.
If a driver fails a breath test they will be taken to the police station and given a final breath test.
A motorist cannot drive their car if they fail their breath test.
‘There was some confusion during the interaction between the police and the defendant and this gentleman had no idea what was going on. He had never been asked to blow into an intoxiliser before. He had two glasses of wine many hours before.
‘He was candid and said he had had a drink but he thought he was not over the limit. He was in shock after being arrested. He has a depressive illness and anxiety.
‘It is right to say he did not provide a specimen but he distressed about the whole incident and he is sad that he did not think harder and more clearly at the time.
‘He suffers from anxiety, depression and high blood pressure and was worried about getting his medication. He had no idea why he was being stopped and still has no idea to this day. He was having to get out of the car in handcuffs which is hard for anyone.
‘There is no evidence of drunken behaviour at all but there is the refusal. This gentleman runs his own company.
‘He has worked in Freight and provided driving services since he was 21. He built up a wonderful business but that took a downturn in 2018.
‘That business had to close, as he could not sustain it anymore but he has now built up a smaller business and employs four individual who depend on him.
‘He drives many hours for work and is the face of his business. He gives advice to others wanting to start up small to medium enterprises. He is highly regarded by his friends and family.
‘He supports his girlfriend with her difficulties and being disqualified is going to have an effect on her and her family life.
‘This incident is totally out of character, he deeply regrets it and there is genuine remorse from him about what has happened. He earns up to £3000 per month and has £2585 per month expenses.
Earlier prosecutor Miss Tina Cunnane said: ‘Police saw a black Maserati motor vehicle coming towards them and the defendant appeared to be driving at excess speed. The police officer used his emergency equipment and he was stopped.
‘When the police spoke to the defendant they saw his eyes were glazed and that he was a little unsteady on his feet but could walk unaided. He did not provide the two specimens for analysis and gave no medical reason not to do so. He categorically said no. It was a deliberate refusal.’
Meredith will be sentenced next month after the preparation of a report but was given an interim driving ban. Charges against him of failing to stop for police, failing to co-operate and careless driving were dropped.
JP Martin Drake told him: ‘We have listened to everything that has been said. This was a deliberate refusal but it is lesser harm and you are a man of previous good character.’