Drink drivers to face virtual court

Drink-drivers caught over the limit in the run-up to Christmas could lose their licence within 90 minutes of being charged using "virtual court" technology.

Senior police chiefs issued the warning as they launched their annual festive drink and drug-driving crackdown today.

Kent Police said they will be using video links between stations and courts to help mete out swifter punishment to motorists found under the influence.

If they plead or are found guilty at the first hearing, then the magistrate could take away their driving licence immediately, meaning they could be banned on the day they are charged.

Deputy Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said: "Usually, motorists will be charged with drink-driving and be bailed to appear before the court some weeks later.

"This means until a guilty verdict is reached, they are free to drive. The use of the virtual court system means that the defendant risks losing their licence on the day of charge."

Virtual courts were trialled last year, a police spokesman said that in one case a motorist was banned from driving less than 90 minutes after being charged.

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