A Lithuanian lorry driver, arrested for driving a lorry whilst drunk, pleaded with the court not to ban him as the driver shortage meant he could lose out on "significant" earnings whilst in Britain.

Manchester Magistrates Court heard that Lithuanian Vitas Urbonas, 48, was seen driving a MAN tractor unit in the early hours of Sunday morning (September 12) on the M61. The police followed him and found him parked on Bridgewater Avenue, in Bolton, where he claimed to be taking a rest break. He told officers he was not a resident of the UK and was only in the country to work.

Prosecutor Tara Riley told Manchester Magistrates court yesterday (13 September) that Urbonas gave a positive breath test and was then taken into custody and provided a sample of 73 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath, more than twice the legal limit of 35 micrograms per 100ml of breath.

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Defence counsel Nicola Hall argued any driving disqualification would have a significant impact on Urbonas’ income. “He is normally a resident in Lithuania,” she added. “He arrived in the UK in order to take up driving. He was not intending to live here, just to do a short period of driving. Once he is disqualified he will no longer be able to undertake that employment in the UK. Given the current opportunities in the UK for lorry drivers, that is a significant penalty.”

Urbonas, speaking through an interpreter, said he was earning £650 per week as a lorry driver. District Judge Begley fined Urbonas £650 and banned him from driving for 20 months. He also ordered Urbonas to pay £65 as a victim surcharge, and an £85 court costs bill. He told the lorry driver: “You pleaded guilty to the offence and I give you full credit for doing so. It is right in these particular circumstances I take into account the type of vehicle you were driving. I understand this was a tractor unit.”