The owner of a garage in Southampton has been disqualified from driving after being caught over the legal limit in a customer’s Audi A5 Coupe.
Jhalman Rai, owner of J S Autos, was pulled over on a Friday evening in August 2023 after police watched him “driving erratically” in the city. Rai escaped a separate charge of theft after Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard that he was test driving the Audi following repairs.
He was using the car to drive home from work, but stopped to meet friends at a bar in the city.
PC Russell Tribe told the court: “I noticed the vehicle veer suddenly onto the wrong side of the road. As he exited the vehicle, he was unsteady on his feet.“
Charging him with drink-driving, PC Tribe added: “I found it highly unlikely for the customer to allow their vehicle to be road tested at that time of night while under the influence of alcohol.“
The next morning, the car’s owner, Mr Albi Asimi, went to collect the car. He said: “I went on the Saturday and the car wasn’t there.
“I waited a bit and they said go home and we will give you a call. I got home, then the police knocked on my door. They said someone was caught drink-driving.
“It annoyed me, but at the same time it didn’t surprise me because I thought where else could it be. It wasn’t an agreement to take it out for personal use – to take it to the pub.”
Rai told the court he believed he had the owner’s consent to drive the car, saying: “The road test has got to be driven. He was going to collect it the next day so I had to test it. I can’t tell without driving it whether the leak has been fixed.”
Defending Rai, Nick Robinson said: “The test drive took place the day before [Mr Asimi] was due to collect the car. [Rai] was genuinely baffled at the suggestion that he was acting outside of the consent of the owner.
“[Rai] was doing what he was doing because as this was a necessary way to make sure the leak had stopped. This was a genuine road test.
“No disrespect to the Audi car, but it’s not like it was a Rolls-Royce that he was taking out for a pleasure spin.”
Rai pleaded guilty to drink-driving but was cleared of theft. He’s been disqualified from driving for 40 months and has been ordered to pay court fees totalling £785.
Source: Southern Daily Echo