A JUDGE says he may have to issue tougher sentences in a bid to reduce the number or drink driving cases coming before Ballymena Magistrates Court.
District Judge Nigel Broderick was speaking on Thursday where several people appeared in connection with pre-Christmas drink driving matters.
He spoke out after sentencing a man who was two and a half times the limit to an 18 months road ban and a £300 fine.
The minimum period of disqualification for drink driving is a year ban.
The judge said drink driving was becoming “all too prevalent” and it appeared the minimum period of disqualification was not acting as a “deterrent”.
Judge Broderick said he would be reviewing his sentencing practices.
A prosecutor said Rimvydas Urbonas (26), with an address at Greenfields in Randalstown, admitted driving with excess alcohol in his breath at Antrim Road in Ballymena on December 22 last year.
Police had spoken to the defendant after he had driven a BMW behind their vehicle with the “full beam” on at 12.30am.
He had an alcohol in breath reading of 90 with the legal limit being 35.
Defence barrister Thomas McKeever accepted it was a “high reading”.
He said the defendant had lived here for several years and is a forklift driver.
The lawyer said the defendant had been drinking seven or eight hours earlier and thought he was ok to drive.
He said the defendant’s licence was crucial to his employment as he often started work at 6am so public transport was not an option and his partner did not drive.