A junior doctor who crashed her car twice within two months while under the influence of alcohol has been spared jail, claiming the stress of her training and her job had driven her to drink.
Dr Lauren Fowler crashed her car in an area full of pedestrians after drinking with friends in Manchester, then downing another bottle of wine in the car. Two months later, while released on bail, the 25-year-old crashed in the carpark of a hotel in Cheshire where she had drunk half a bottle of vodka before going to the gym.
Stockport Magistrates have, however, spared her a jail sentence.
The court was told that Fowler started drinking as a student at Imperial College in London as a way to “cope with the stress” of her medical degree. The first incident occurred just a few months after graduation.
Prosecutor Joseph O’Connor said: “Police attended a minor road traffic collision and met the defendant who was clearly intoxicated”.
“She was swearing and slurring her words and they could smell intoxicants on her breath.
“When they tried to speak to her they had trouble understanding what she was saying, she was incoherent and the officers assumed she was drunk. As she was arrested she admitted that she had drunk two bottles of wine and was taken to the police station. She was described as acting very emotionally and she failed to provide a specimen of breath because she was so upset.”
Less than two months later while on bail for the first offence, Fowler was again stopped after drinking half a bottle of vodka and driving around a hotel carpark near her home in Styal, Cheshire. Subsequent tests showed her to be more than three times the drink-drive limit.
Mr O’Connor continued: “She collided with another car whilst trying to leave the car park of the Stanneylands Hotel,
“When the police arrived they tried to speak to her, but they noticed a smell of intoxicants on her breath and she was slurring her words.
“She was taken to the police station and gave two samples of breath. In interview, she made admissions and told them she had drunk half a bottle of vodka before deciding to go to the gym.”
Fowler wept as she heard that her offences “crossed the custody threshold”, however, her sentence was suspended once the courts heard how she had now given up drinking.
Helen Turner, acting in Fowler’s defence, said that her client now faced a disciplinary hearing by the General Medical Council.
“She has an addictive behaviour, she admits this. She has a very stressful lifestyle,” said Ms Turner.
“It is insurmountable the amount of work she does. She works 48 hours during the week, and she works overtime and also volunteers at the weekend. You can’t deny the dedication she has for her career. She has already made steps to making sure this never happens again. She has given up alcohol completely. She has removed all temptation to ever get behind the wheel by selling her car.
“She has been seeing an addiction counsellor every week. She has shown an incredible amount of remorse for her actions. Her character references indicate that this isn’t the kind of thing you would expect from her.
“She reported herself to the GMC. She has been completely transparent with her employer and the GMC and she knows this will massively impact her career. She has made a hill for herself to climb and I can only ask that you don’t make this a mountain, as she has already punished herself enough.”
JP Martin Drake told her: “We have considered all the facts of this case and there are aggravating features; the first offence was committed during the day when there were pedestrians around and the second offence was committed on bail and it was a very high reading. This does cross the custody threshold but the sentence will be suspended and this means you will not be going to prison today.
“However, if you commit any offence during the next 12 months, another judge has the right to activate that sentence and can send you to custody.”
Fowler pleaded guilty to drink-driving and failing to provide a breath specimen. Magistrates sentenced her to eight weeks in jail, suspended for a year, as well as complete 40 hours unpaid work, banned from driving for three years, and ordered to pay £200 costs.
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