A judge criticised the leniency of sentences he could hand to serial drink drivers as a man walked free from court for his sixth offence.
Wayne Hoban, 46, was handed a community punishment despite having five convictions for drink driving and 11 for driving while disqualified.
Judge James Spencer QC said he thought Hoban was “taking the mickey” after hearing that the court can only impose a six month prison sentence.
The judge asked prosecutor Richard Smith if it was not possible for habitual offenders to be sent to be dealt with by judges at the crown court to faces tougher sentences than could be imposed by magistrates.
When he was told it was not possible he asked: “So they can go through life just repeating these offences just knowing that the penalty is very small?” Mr Smith replied: “Yes.”
Yesterday’s case was only heard at Leeds Crown Court as Hoban initially contested drug charges after he was found in possession of cannabis when arrested.
The court heard police became suspicious after they saw Hoban hit the kerb when he drove his Vauxhall Corsa into the ASDA car park at Morley at 1am on September 12 last year.
Hoban sped off when police indicated for him to stop but they spotted him later on Wakefield Road. He pulled up outside a house of Trafalgar Gardens and got out. Police found him hiding under a bush.
He failed a breath test and was found in possession of a small amount of cannabis. He pleaded guilty to the offences as well as driving while disqualified and having no insurance.
Hoban, of Clark Road, Cross Green, Leeds, has driving and drug offences dating back to 1985.
A probation report described him as someone who used alcohol to deal with stress. He has recently lost close relatives and was trying to deal with other family problems.
The report recommended Hoban be given a community punishment to help tackle his repeat offending.
Hoban’s barrister Narinder Rathour urged the judge to treat his case with sympathy.
The judge replied: “He had been out in the early hours with his girlfriend boozing! What sort of sympathy to you want from me?”
“He is taking the mickey. He came out of prison for similar offences in the early part of last year. Within a few months he is doing it again.”
The judge agreed to impose the community order and ordered him to do 100 hours unpaid work because he was “limited” in what he could do.
Hoban was also ordered to attend a responsible road users course and was banned from driving for five years.