A FORMER Avon and Somerset will never be able to serve as a police officer again following his "disgraceful conduct".

Gross misconduct was proven against PC James Hayward at a hearing at the force HQ in Portishead on Wednesday.

He breached the standards expected of police officers after last week being convicted of driving a private vehicle while over the legal alcohol limit.

Officers who suspected he had got behind the wheel while over the limit on March 12 this year reported the incident.

Hayward, who lives in a village near Taunton, was subsequently stopped by a roads policing officer near the county town.

He appeared in court in Exeter last week and was sentenced after pleading guilty to drink-driving.

Hayward joined Avon and Somerset as a trainee two months before the incident.

He did not attend this week’s hearing but submitted a letter saying he accepted his actions amounted to gross misconduct.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh acknowledged there were personal circumstances that impacted on Hayward at the time, but ruled the officer would have been dismissed if he had not resigned ahead of the hearing.

The chief constable said he did not have confidence in Hayward’s decision making and the public rightly "expect those given the responsibility of enforcing the law to abide by it".

Chief Constable Marsh added: “I have read the letter written by PC Hayward in which he recognises his disgraceful conduct and reflects with regret and shame upon the decisions he made and the actions he took.

"It is to his credit that he has taken responsibility for his actions.

"The offence of drink-driving is a serious one. Road users were put in danger by PC Hayward driving whilst under the influence of alcohol.

“The seriousness is aggravated by the fact that a colleague had previously taken PC Hayward’s car keys from him to stop him from driving.

“PC Hayward had time for reflection, yet still decided to drive and recognised when he was stopped that he knew he was over the limit.”

READ MORE: Former police officer's ban for drink driving.