A Manchester care home boss has been banned from the roads for 12 months after she was found guilty of getting behind the wheel while twice the drink driving limit.
The 47-year-old, who runs two specialised care homes in the city, had been on a night out with staff, paying £1000 to cover costs, the court heard. She claimed that she “didn’t know there was vodka in her coke”.
The defendant was “on call” for the care home in case of a medical emergency and so had driven to the party venue and planned to drive back.
She admitted that she had drunk a single gin and tonic as well as a glass of prosecco during the night, but believed that because of the passage of time and a three-course meal, she would not be over the limit and be OK to drive.
John Richards, prosecuting, told the court that police spotted her just after 2am on June 23. Her care and crossed over the central white line, causing the oncoming police car to swerve to avoid her.
The officers followed her for a short distance before pulling her over in Partington. They said she struggled to get out of her car, her eyes were ‘glazed’, her speech ‘slurred’, and she smelled of intoxicants.
Following her arrest on suspicion of drink driving, further tests at the police station showed her to have 79mcg alcohol per 100ml breath. The legal limit is 35mcg.
Speaking before the court, the defendant said that she had also consumed water, four or five glasses of coke and some orange juice in addition to the gin and prosecco.
“I certainly didn’t feel in any way incapable of driving,” she said under questioning from her defence lawyer Stephanie Varle.
“It did occur to me, I hope the police don’t think I am drink driving because I am avoiding all the potholes,” she added.
She also explained that she had previously suffered four punctures on that particular stretch of road.
Care worker Amanda Jackson, who worked with the defendant, also spoke in the woman’s defence saying that a few weeks after the night out she had asked her if she was OK because she seemed upset.
Ms Varle then told the court that Ms Jackson, acting in a “completely and utterly innocent way” did not know the defendant was not planning to drink that night. She “topped up” a glass of prosecco that the woman had been drinking in addition to giving her double vodka and cokes which she had also given to the others in the party.
“I didn’t know she was driving,” said Ms Jackson. “I would never have given her a drink.
The defendant also told the court that she had lost a cousin to a drink driver in Ireland while her best friend’s nephew had also been killed in a drink driving accident in Cheshire.
“I didn’t drink drive,” she said, “until this incident where I unknowingly drunk alcohol and drove.”
With any ban putting her in “absolute disarray”, Ms Varle argued that as her client was unaware of having consumed any alcohol beyond what she knew, she should be spared a driving ban or receive a lesser ban.
Edward Tasker, Chairman of the bench, disagreed, saying: “We don’t accept that the defendant didn’t know or suspect her drinks were laced, therefore we are not applying special reasons in this case.”
The woman was banned from the roads for 21 months and ordered to pay a fine of £1200 plus £620 costs and a £120 victim surcharge.