A barrister who drank half a bottle of whisky before getting behind the wheel of a car – his second drink driving conviction - has been fined £2,500.
In a decision published this month the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service (BTAS) also prevented Peter Moss, who is currently unregistered, from applying to renew his practising certificate until 1 February 2019.
The BTAS said Moss, called by Middle Temple in 1980, is an ‘experienced and mature person’ required by his profession to have a ‘high degree of personal insight’. He must have recognised he was over the limit and could and should have taken a taxi, the tribunal said, adding that there was a significant risk of harm.
After his conviction, in May 2016, Moss was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and banned from driving for 40 months. Moss’s other drink-driving conviction was in 2009.
In the most recent case Moss was returning from visiting a friend and was nearly three times over the legal drink-drive limit when he drove home. He claimed he had fallen asleep at his friend’s house and had not realised what the time was when he woke up. However, the tribunal found that he must have known he was still over the limit.
The BTAs said that ordinarily a suspension would have been an appropriate penalty but that as Moss was unregistered it would instead prevent him from renewing his practising certificate.
The BTAS’s ruling follows a similar case heard before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) last month in which a solicitor was convicted of two driving offences within the space of a week.
In that instance, the tribunal struck Andrew John Peters off the roll, a decision that could fuel the debate over apparently more lenient disciplinary standards at the bar.
The SDT found Peters, formerly of Borehamwood-based Martin Smith & Co, was a danger to road users on two occasions in May 2016 – once after being convicted of drink driving and again for driving an unsuitable car without insurance. Those incidents occurred within one week of each other. Peters also failed to report his convictions to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, leading the tribunal to consider his actions so serious that a lesser sanction would not be appropriate.