A woman has been given a three-year ban for drink-driving for pushing a car to a safer place after it ran out of petrol.
The defendant’s ex-husband had been behind the wheel but he abandoned the vehicle when it broke down a few minutes’ drive from their home. He walked off to a nearby pub but the defendant felt she needed to move it to a nearby parking spot as he left it in “a very dangerous place”.
However, the defendant was spotted by police who had been called by a member of the public who saw her pushing the Ford Ka in Sawston, Cambs. A roadside breathalyser found she had 50 mgs alcohol in 100 mls of breath – the legal limit is 35 micrograms.
The defendant was charged with driving whilst disqualified, driving under the influence of alcohol and using a car with no third party insurance.
The prosecution told Cambridge Magistrates’ Court the case was “unusual”. The lead Magistrate said she recognised that the offence wasn’t like driving on the motorway but stressed that she had to ban the defendant. The defendant was in breach of a 28-day driving ban for failing to stop after an accident, which had been imposed a fortnight before this incident that occurred on 11 June 2015.
As well as losing her licence for three years, the defendant was fined £165. The defendant declined to speak about the case.
Dave Nichols, of the Brake road safety charity, said:
“This is a very unusual case, but will hopefully send out an important message. The engine doesn’t have to be running or you don’t necessarily have to be behind the wheel in order to be prosecuted for drink-driving. For example, simply having the keys on your possession or having an intention to take control of a vehicle could lead to a prosecution. The message is clear, if you have been drinking alcohol, make sure you are never left in a position where the police could think you are in charge of that vehicle.”
Paul Waters, head of road policy at the AA, said:
“When you’re pushing a car you are technically in charge of it. Actually, pushing it is even more dangerous as you are a hazard on the road and it’s very hard to control a car while you are pushing it. It sounds as though she was in charge of that vehicle and in no capacity to do so. She would have been classed as being responsible and drink driving is a high level offence. Even sleeping it off in the car with keys in your pocket, not even in the ignition, you can be convicted for being in charge of the vehicle or intent to drive. The court is able to hear the evidence and then make a judgement. It’s not a surprising result in this case.”