On Friday 1 September 2017, shortly after 2 am, former England football captain Wayne Rooney was seen by the police to be driving a Black VW Beetle, which transpired to belong to woman he had met earlier that evening when socialising with friends. At the time, the police noticed a rear tail light had gone out and intended to follow the vehicle but it pulled over with Rooney seen to be at the wheel with a female passenger. Rooney was suspected to have been intoxicated and provided a positive roadside breath test before being taken to the police station where the reading was confirmed.
Rooney having been arrested and charged with an offence of driving with excess alcohol appeared before Stockport Magistrates’ Court on 18 September 2017 where he tendered his ‘guilty’ plea. The Court heard that the breathalyser reading showed the footballer’s alcohol level was 104mg per 100 millilitres of breath, which is almost three time the prescribed legal limit (35mg). The court also heard that Rooney currently had three points on his driving licence for a speeding offence on August 24 2016.
Rooney’s legal team acknowledged the severity of the matter, and during mitigation invited District Judge Termperley to consider not imposing a community order because of his ongoing charitable work the footballer carries out. Alternatively, the District Judge was asked to resolve the matter by way of a driving ban and financial penalty. In doing so, the Court were also informed that Everton Football Club were to fine him two weeks wages as a result, which is understood to be in the region of about £300,000.
However, District Judge Temperley stated this was a serious matter that placed Rooney and other road users at risk due to his poor judgment that particular evening. Whilst the judge accepted Rooney’s remorse was genuine and he was aware of the adverse effects the events that night has have had, the judge was not convinced that the imposition of a large fine would have the same effect.
Accordingly, the 31 year old was disqualified from driving for two years and ordered to perform 100 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12 month community order. Rooney was also ordered to pay £170 in respect of prosecution costs and a victim surcharge.
In a statement of apology issued after the hearing, Rooney said,
“Following today’s court hearing I want publicly to apologise for my unforgivable lack of judgment in driving while over the legal limit. It was completely wrong.
I have already said sorry to my family, my manager and chairman and everyone at Everton FC. Now I want to apologise to all the fans and everyone else who has followed and supported me throughout my career.
Of course I accept the sentence of the court and hope that I can make some amends through my community service.”
Rooney has agreed with leave of the Court to undertake a drink-driving rehabilitation course, which if successfully completed in the allocated time could reduce his driving ban by a period of 24 weeks. In the meantime, he will have to rely on chauffeurs to and from football training and for his unpaid work requirement, which will be costly