Hospital surgeon suspended after crashing car twice in drink driving incident

Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon. - Credit: Archant

A Hinchingbrooke Hospital surgeon had his medical licence suspended after he crashed his car twice and drove away on three wheels.

Vimal Hariharan crashed his car into the central reservation on the A1 near Peterborough on April 12 last year.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, a tribunal panel for doctors, heard how Mr Hariharan lost control of his car and collided with the central reservation causing one of the car wheels to fall off.

The consultant general laparoscopic and colorectal surgeon then stopped his car to inspect the damage, before driving off and crashing for a second time.

Mr Hariharan was breathalysed by police at the roadside and failed. A second reading taken at a police station the following morning found 57 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, an amount exceeding the drink drive limit.

In November 2017, Mr Hariharan was sentenced for drink driving and dangerous driving at magistrates’ court, having admitted both charges.

He was disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for 20 months as well as sentenced to a community service order to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

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In addition to a written witness statement, the tribunal heard evidence from Mr Hariharan. He told the tribunal of the ‘shame he felt with regards to what had happened’.

He spoke about how he had never driven after drinking before, put road users at risk or even had a speeding ticket.

The report says that he “felt very disappointed in himself for bringing the profession into disrespect and apologised for the pain and suffering he had caused”.

The tribunal heard how he had decided to drive initially to get something to eat after drinking alcohol.

The hearing was also made aware that due to the nature of the ‘personal news’ that he had received earlier that day, he was preoccupied with thoughts about what the appropriate next steps would be and that he was unfamiliar with the roads.

Evidence was also given by a professional who had worked with Mr Hariharan who said he had been open and transparent about driving whilst over the alcohol limit and that he had taken his punishment honourably, faced up to his crime and learnt from it.

At the tribunal, Sarah Przbylska, representing Mr Hariharan, said he had ‘no history of any other offences and problems’, but conceded that it was a serious matter.

The tribunal decide that Mr Hariharan would be suspended from the profession for a period of three months.

The report said: “The tribunal recognises that doctors are not infallible and can make mistakes… the tribunal considered that the public interest can be serviced with a sanction other than erasure, given [Mr Hariharan’s] acknowledged desire not to repeat his errors.”