Leeds nostalgia: drink driving fines were more lenient 70 years ago

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Turn the clocks back 70 or so years and the penalties for offences like drink driving were far less severe than they are today.

On this day in 1943, while most newspaper headlines were concerned with the progress of the war in Europe, one court report told the tale of Henry Craven, 64, an edible fat refiner from Town Street, Beeston, who was arrested even though he wasn’t in the car at the time (although he was drunk).

The report, which appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post, said Craven’s car was spotted on Beeston Town Street by two special constables, with the windows open and the keys in the ignition.

Enquiries were made as to the whereabouts of its owner, who was eventually located in a nearby hotel and when asked to come out, was found to be too drunk to drive.

Craven was ordered to pay £10 as a fine, £2 13s 6d in costs and a further £2 for failing to immobilise his car. Sentencing him, magistrates said he would be able to apply for his licence back in six months.

In other news, the Germans regained the Mareth Line, a system of fortifications built by France in southern Tunisia prior to the war, which had been secured by the 8th Army.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Winston Churchill said he hoped that despite a fierce counter-offensive by Germany, the Allies would be able to retake the line soon.

One report read: “Terrific attacks and counter-attacks are taking place for the bridgehead which we made in the initial stages of the attack.

“It is going to be a fight to the finish and that is what the Allies planned to destroy the Axis forces in North Africa... casualties on both sides are going to be considerable.”