Famous TV presenter Ant McPartlin (aka Ant from Ant & Dec) has been fined £86,000 for drunk driving, which resulted in a serious crash, along with a 20-month long ban from driving on the roads. This is the biggest ever drink driving fine in UK history, after he was caught twice over the legal limit.
The presenter plead guilty to drink driving yesterday, after causing a collision with two other cars in Richmond, London, on the 18th of March. The court heard he had been driving with his mother in the passenger seat, and he had more than double the legal alcohol limit in his system at the time when he struck the other vehicle. More specifically, he had 75 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath when he was breathalysed. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath.
Ant made a short statement outside Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court: “I let myself down, I let a lot of people down. For that I’m truly sorry.”
He also said that he was “thankful no one was hurt” and that he was “ashamed and mortified” and “accepts full responsibility” for his actions.
In a witness statement, one of the victims of the collision said he and his family were “in deep shock” and that he and his wife “could have died as a result of Mr. McPartlin’s reckless driving”.
Ant’s longtime presenting partner, Dec Donnelly, was not present in court to support him. Ant was alone behind the glass of a witness box, certainly the furthest the public have ever seen him, away from his squeaky clean television persona.
In terms of his TV work itself, the pre-recorded auditions for this year’s Britain’s Got Talent means he will still appear on the show for the next two months. However, in terms of live TV, we’re not so sure, and the statement he made outside the Magistrates’ Court, could be his last live TV appearance for a long time.
District Judge Barbara Barnes described Ant as a “well-known and successful entertainer” and she took his weekly income of approximately £130,000 into account when she calculated the fine.
“At the time when it happened you were struggling with various personal problems and also alcohol issues for some months” the district judge said when sentencing him. “This incident happened, sadly, when it seems you suffered a brief relapse.”
The judge also referred to his previous “exemplary character”, adding: “I think it will have quite an impact on you to know you’re no longer a man of good character.”
“Because of the seriousness of this offence, the financial pain must be imposed on you as on any other offender.”
Ant’s 20 month driving ban can only be reduced by five months at maximum, that is if he can complete a drink-drive referral programme by mid-May next year. The presenter continues to take time off from his TV commitments while he seeks treatment, while Dec on the other hand hosted the final two episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway alone, as well as the upcoming live shows for Britain’s Got Talent.
Ant McPartlin has said he’s “truly sorry for what happened” and citied “alcohol and emotional issues” as the reason behind the out of character driving incident, which has left him feeling “ashamed and mortified.”
Additionally, Ant’s lawyer has said that the court appearance is a “turning point” for Mr. McPartlin, and we can only hope that that’s true, that something like this doesn’t ever happen again, and that he can soon get back on track.
Remember, alcohol ruins lives, and sometimes even careers. Let’s hope that Ant is back on our TV screens in due time.
<Story by Emily Clark>
Featured Photo Credit: BT TV