The daughter of Barbara Knox, who plays Rita in popular soap Coronation Street, has been handed a two year driving ban after being found guilty of driving while approximately three times over the legal limit. Her lawyer, Nick Freeman, described Maxine Ashcroft as being a recluse who lived a quiet life, and said that her licence “is literally her lifeblood”.
56 year old Maxine Ashcroft was stopped by police while driving erratically in Knutsford, Cheshire on March 10th. Debbie Byrne, prosecuting, said that tests had showed a level of 97 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. The current legal limit for driving is 35mg per 100ml, meaning that Miss Ashcroft was nearly three times the legal limit according to the breath test results.
On appearing at the police station later in the evening, Mrs Knox, who plays Rita Tanner in the popular ITV soap, was also arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Miss Ashcroft pleaded guilty to the charge of drink driving, which can carry a prison sentence of six months as well as a £5,000 fine and a minimum 12 month driving ban. However, her lawyer, Nick Freeman, also referred to as Mr Loophole and well known as a defender against driving convictions, argued that banning her from driving would have a catastrophic effect on her life. He pointed out that Miss Ashcroft lives 6 miles away from the nearest shop and 10 miles away from the nearest train station, in a village that she has lived for only three months. Ashcroft is said to have no friends locally, due to the little time she has lived in the region, meaning that she will not be able to get around.
Attending court, Miss Ashcroft hid her face behind a scarf. She was banned for 2 years, which will be reduced by six months if she attends a drink driving awareness course, and was fine £960. Mr Freeman said that his client was “contrite and ashamed” or her actions, and was the “author of her own misfortune.”