Homes Under the Hammer star Martin Roberts has lost an appeal against his driving ban after the presenter failed to take a breath test last November.
The BBC presenter, who suffers from asthma, claimed he tried but failed to complete two blows into the breathalyser machine and he was convicted for failing to provide a specimen.
But police accused him of sucking rather than blowing and, after only one successful test which showed him to be almost twice over the limit, they charged him with failing to provide a specimen of breath and he was banned from driving for 23 months.
Roberts maintains the reading could have been contaminated by his asthma inhaler.
Speaking outside Bristol Crown Court yesterday (Friday) after his unsuccessful appeal, the 56-year-old told Bristol Live : “This is a bad day for me. But it is also a terrible day for asthma sufferers.
“How can it be fair that someone that has a lifelong history of asthma, that declares that asthma to police, is only offered a breathylser test that involves exhaling effectively – and is not offered any alternative way of providing a sample – such as giving blood or urine?”
The recorder Mr Noel Casey, who heard the appeal with two magistrates dismissed the appeal against conviction, retained the sentence and imposed £520 costs.
“We accept the appellant suffers from asthma but not to an extent much greater than many other sufferers.”
Mr Roberts stressed his doctor said it was very likely he would not have been able to provide the required breath test.
He said: “My failure to provide a sample was for genuine medical reasons. I would have happily provided a blood or urine sample but was never offered the opportunity to do so.
“I believe the law needs to be changed to protect other asthma sufferers like myself from being prejudiced against in this grossly unfair way, by making it mandatory that they are offered an alternative way of providing a sample.
“This matter has caused me and my family unbelievable stress and worry and I am now being faced with a 23 month driving ban and a big fine – equivalent to being ten times over the limit and crashing into a street full of parked vehicles.
“Yet I wasn’t even in my car, or anywhere near it, when I was stopped by police.”
Nicholas Lee, prosecuting, said the saga unfolded after security man Paul Sharp spotted Roberts at 2.08am on Level 3 in the SouthGate Shopping Centre car park, Bath.
Mr Sharp thought Roberts looked a “little unsteady” and tracked him on CCTV.
The court was shown footage of how Roberts walked to his Volvo, leaned on the boot and then drove off.
As he reversed he nudged another car and headed for the exit.
Such was Mr Sharp’s concern that he locked the automatic barrier, preventing Roberts from exiting the car park, and he called police.
Police sergeant Andrew Mundy told the court he arrested Roberts on foot in Manvers Street.
The officer said: “I invited him to the police vehicle for a sample of breath.
“He was slurring his words, speaking in a repetitive manner and you could smell alcohol.”
Footage showed how Roberts repeatedly asked to speak to his solicitor and no roadside breath test was carried out.
He was arrested at 2.33am and taken to Keynsham custody centre, where he informed police he had asthma.
Roberts managed, after three tries, to effectively blow into the breath test machine.
But he failed to successfully blow a second time and was not allowed another go.
PC Lee Venis told the court: “In the first test he barely blew. In the second he appeared to be sucking on the pipe.”
PC Venis said he suffered from asthma himself and it was his view that asthma sufferers, and even those with one lung, should be capable of exhaling for the test.
He said: “Sucking on the pipe has nothing to do with lung function.”
Roberts told his barrister, David Campbell, that he was asthmatic and had “absolutely” tried his best in the breath tests.
He admitted hosting a function that day, and then visiting bars, but denied being over the alcohol limit.
He said: “I am not swinging the lead. It took me a lot of time to do the first test, using all my abilities and all my puff.
“Eventually I squeezed out the little bit extra needed.
“By doing so I got myself into a state of anxiety and exhaustion, or puffed outness, so I couldn’t do the second test.”
Dr Barbara Roy, Roberts’ GP, confirmed he was an asthma sufferer and in her view he had tried his best to blow breath tests.
She said in January this year his peak airflow was 325, which is half the lung capacity expected for a man of his age and height.
He was then given new steroid medication which boosted that peak airflow to a much-improved reading of 550.