Crash ends in loss of licence

A WARRNAMBOOL driverwho panicked and drove away after crashing his work ute on a notorious corner has been grilled about his drinking habits.

James Dalton, 23, previouslyof Jamieson Street andnow of Surrey Hills,pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to careless driving and failing to report an accident.

He was fined $800, with $117 costs, and his licence was suspended for two months.

Police saidDaltonwas driving along Daltons Road when he took a sharp corner and crashed his silver Nissan ute into a brick fence, where the road becomes Bromfield Street, at 4am on June 13.

A large section of the wall collapsed andthere was glass from the ute left at the scene.

Dalton reversed his vehicleand drove home without reporting the accident.

Police called for witnesses in The Standard and Dalton came forward two days later, makingadmissions he crashed his ute.Dalton said he panicked and drove home after he fell asleep.

Magistrate Michael Coghlan said there were obvious questions about Dalton’s drinking before the crash.

He said Dalton had made a deliberate and conscious decision to drive away, had not facedup to his responsibilities and he may have escapeda drink-driving charge.

Defence counsel Tony Robinson said Dalton had started work at 5.30am the previous day,returned home to visit his family in Warrnambool and then went out with friends.

He said Dalton had a couple of mid-strengthbeers at dinner at a Warrnambool hotel and feared he would lose his licence because of the accident.

The solicitor said without his licence, Dalton did not have a job as a refrigeration mechanic in Melbourne.

Mr Coghlansaid it was not a minor accident.

The magistrate said Dalton had “done a runner” and the natural suspicionwas the defendanthad too much to drink even though he was no longercharged with that offence.

Mr Coghlan said Dalton had been involved in a significant accident,a substantial brick fence had been knocked down and it was a case that required a driverlicence suspension.

He said if he didn’t know of a more deserving case for a licence suspension.

Dalton has appealed against the severity of the penalty.

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