A lawyer who specialises in motoring offences has been banned from driving for three years after pleading guilty to drink driving.
This is the second conviction for 48-year-old Helen Dugdale after she was spotted “zigzagging” down a busy road by a taxi driver in Birkenhead on June 29.
Peter Cannon, worried it was an elderly person struggling to keep control of the car, so he watched her before she stopped after just missing a set of traffic lights. At this point, he went to see if she needed help.
Joseph O’Connor, prosecuting, told the Court: “He described her as obviously and evidently intoxicated and making no sense. As a result, he telephoned the police.
“Police arrived and found her slumped in the seat, she could not hold her head up, and her speech was slurred.”
Mr O’Connor went on to add: “The road was busy and pedestrians were around. It was lucky that no-one was hit by the car. She stopped at traffic lights on the offside and the taxi driver got out and walked across to the car.”
Police administered a roadside breath test which returned positive. Following her arrest she was taken to the police station where subsequently a second test showed her to have 63mcg alcohol per 100ml breath; a level almost twice the legal limit of 35mcg.
Dugdale originally pleaded not guilty to drink-driving on the grounds of certain medications that she was taking at the time. Her trial was slated for a week later but she then changed her plea to guilty.
She had hit the kerb, causing two burst tyres, and intended to pull over in a lay-by to ring a friend or the AA, according to Thomas Keaney, mitigating
He went on to tell the court of various reasons for “the volcano erupting” leading to her reappearance in court on drink-driving charges.
Following the breakdown of the partnership within her last company she had been left around £60,000 in debt and had endured several years of litigation.
Her mortgage was costing £2,000 per month “not because she lives in a multi-million-pound house”, but because she had secured a loan against her house to pay off debts for the partnership. “She seems to be a bad judge of character in relation to going in with people in business,” he added.
He also explained how a very upsetting personal incident had taken place the evening before, something which would send anyone “over the edge”. Dugdale had a couple of glasses of wine that night and had “a top-up” the next day when visiting a friend.
Apparently, she didn’t believe herself to be over the limit but turned out that she was.
Said Keaney: “She holds her hands up to the court and says sorry. It certainly won’t happen again. Since this, she has given up drinking, and she has gone to her doctor for help for her depression.”
Dugdale sobbed quietly in the secure box at the court throughout the proceedings. When asked if she had anything to add she said “I wish I could turn the clock back. It is something that happened because of the factors involved and it is not going to happen again. I am having therapy and it is working very well.” She also added that she would be facing sanctions from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Richard Lenderyou, Chairman of the bench, said that accounting for the mitigating circumstances the case did not pass the custody threshold. He fined Dugdale £650 and ordered her to pay £315 costs, in addition to the three-year ban.
Her previous offence in 2013 resulted in an 18-month ban and fines totalling £1,450.
About Freeman & Co.
Freeman & Co. are a specialist firm of criminal solicitors based in Manchester but with nationwide coverage.
The firm was created by Nick Freeman, who has been dubbed “Mr Loophole” by the press for his technical legal ability and robustly challenging the prosecution.
Nick is well regarded as an expert road traffic lawyer and has successfully represented many high profile clients for a variety of motoring offences as well as criminal offences.
The firm of Freeman & Co. embodies the way Nick works, with minute attention to detail and challenging the prosecution at every turn.
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