SINGAPORE: A woman who drove her husband’s car despite not having a driving licence was on Thursday (Apr 13) sentenced to jail of two months and two weeks, and banned from driving for two years.
Monica Cheng Mei Ling, 38, was also fined S$2,200. If unable to pay the fine, she will be jailed 11 days.
In mitigation, her pro-bono lawyer said Cheng was performing a delivery on her husband’s behalf, to keep the family afloat as he had refused to “do the necessary”.
Cheng had pleaded guilty last month to one count each of driving without a valid licence, using a vehicle without insurance coverage, careless driving and stealing items from Watsons.
Three other charges of taking the car without her husband’s consent, failing to report for bail and using a bottle of soap without paying were considered in sentencing.
Cheng had driven her husband’s rental car on Feb 8, 2020 without his knowledge or consent, while he was sleeping.
She took her daughter with her and sat the child in the front passenger seat.
While she was driving along Sims Way, a traffic police officer noticed that the vehicle was swerving left and right several times, across two lanes.
He observed that Cheng did not have proper control of her car and was driving in a manner that caused vehicles behind her to brake abruptly or slow down to avoid collisions.
The officer rode next to Cheng’s car and saw that there was a child in the front seat. Worried for the child, the officer signalled to Cheng to stop.
Cheng nodded but did not stop despite the officer signalling to her a few times.
Eventually, because of traffic, she had to stop behind two other vehicles along Balestier Road. The officer got her to wind down her window and told her to stop at the next bus stop.
Cheng complied this time. She was evasive when asked for her particulars, before admitting she had no driving licence.
Her speech was slurred and her gait was unsteady, and it was later uncovered that she had consumed painkillers and a bottle of cough syrup before driving.
In December 2021, with the help of an accomplice, Cheng also stole cosmetics and insulin injections from Watsons at Northpoint City.
The prosecutor sought jail for Cheng, saying she was a repeat offender and that there was no emergency or urgent matter that required her to drive without a licence.
Cheng arrived at the courtroom half an hour late, with her husband and daughter.
Lawyer Daniel Atticus Xu, who was acting pro bono for her, said in his written mitigation plea that his client has been under “a tremendous amount of stress” for years.
Cheng has three children, including one diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth and with a hole in his heart.
Cheng began having occasional seizures in 2019, adding to her financial burden, and her husband was often in and out of jail.
Although her husband was a Grab deliveryman in 2020, he refused to do the deliveries needed to keep the family afloat, said Mr Xu.
“The family was already facing a dire financial situation due to their upcoming rental and debt payments that had become due,” he said.
On the day of the driving offences, Cheng did not have enough money to feed her seven-year-old daughter. Out of desperation, she decided to do a delivery on his behalf, said Mr Xu.
She has also repaid Watsons for the stolen items, he added.
After she was sentenced, Cheng tried to ask for two hours to be with her husband and daughter.
After being told it was administratively difficult, she asked for half an hour. She was given some time to speak to her husband and daughter before the next case began.