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More MS news articles for April 2004

Driver with MS avoids ban

Tuesday, 13 April, 2004

A motorist from north Wales has been let off a driving ban because he suffers from multiple sclerosis.
Flintshire magistrates heard how Neil Howarth from Mold was caught driving over the limit in a 30mph zone.

He admitted speeding which gave him enough penalty points to receive a ban.

But the court accepted that this would make him house bound, and be tantamount to a prison sentence.

Instead it was decided that the 43-year-old - who can only walk short distances with a stick - should pay a £130 fine.

Howarth from Gwydderlwern, admitted driving a Mercedes Sprinter van at 38 mph in a 30 mph restricted zone at Pontblyddin near Mold in August last year.

He already had 12 penalty points on his driving licence but Howarth told the court that a ban would cause him exceptional hardship.

Defending solicitor Owain Williams argued that to take his licence away would be devastating as he needed it to work.

He is employed by the Ready Veg company, which gives him special dispensation in loading his vehicle because of his extreme disability.

"He suffers from this progressive, debilitating illness that fluctuates in intensity on a daily basis," explained Mr Williams.

"My client is not a man to give up easily. He has not been put off work because he has difficulty walking.

"He is determined to continue working for as long as he can to maintain his independence and his dignity," he said.

Mr Williams also argued that to ban him would be like a "prison sentence" as he lived alone in a rural area.

Howarth, now separated from his wife and children, would also find it difficult to visit them without a car, the court heard.

Magistrates accepted that in view of his illness, a driving ban on Howarth, particularly as he lived alone, would make him virtually house-bound.

He was fined £100 plus costs but no ban was imposed.

Copyright © 2004, BBC