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A 47-year-old woman from Manchester has been banned from driving for 12 months after being caught at twice the drink driving limit, despite her claims she “didn’t know there was vodka in her coke”.

The woman, who owns two specialised care homes in the Trafford area of Manchester, had been out with her staff in Urmston on a night out. She had paid £1,000 to cover the costs, Manchester Magistrates heard.

As she was “on call” at the care home that night in case of medical emergencies, the defendant elected to drive there and back.

She said that she had a single gin and tonic and one glass of prosecco during the night and, due to the passage of time and the three-course meal she had eaten, she would be fit to drive.

Prosecuting, John Richards said that the defendant was driving home after 2am on June 23 when police spotted her, the court heard. It had crossed over the central white line, causing the police car to swerve to avoid it.

After following a short distance, the officers pulled her over in Partington where they said she struggled to exit her vehicle, that her eyes were ‘glazed’, her speech was ‘slurred’, and she smelt of intoxicants.

Tests at the police station revealed her to have 79mcg alcohol per 100ml breath – more than twice the legal drink driving limit of 35mcg.

As she gave evidence before the court, the woman said that in addition to the G&T and the prosecco, she had also consumed water, four or five glasses of coke, and some orange juice.

Under questioning from her lawyer Stephanie Varle she said “I certainly didn’t feel in any way incapable of driving,” before adding “It did occur to me, I hope the police don’t think I am drink driving because I am avoiding all the potholes.”

The woman claimed she had suffered four punctures previously on that stretch of road.

The court also heard from care worker Amanda Jackson who, a few weeks after the night out, had asked if the defendant was OK as she seemed upset.

Ms Varle explained that Ms Jackson, who had acted in a “completely and utterly innocent way”, did not know the defendant was not drinking that night. She had inadvertently “topped up” a glass of prosecco that the defendant had been drinking as well as giving her glasses of double vodka and coke which she had also ordered for other party-goers.

“I didn’t know she was driving. I would never have given her a drink,” said Ms Jackson.

The defendant went on to tell the court that a cousin had been killed by a drink driver in Ireland and that the nephew of her best friend had also been killed in a drink driving accident in Cheshire.

“I didn’t drink drive, until this incident where I unknowingly drunk alcohol and drove,” she said.

Ms Varle argued that, as her client was unaware of consuming alcohol, she should be spared a driving ban or receive a lesser ban, as any ban would put her in “absolute disarray”.

Chairman of the bench Edward Tasker said, however: “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.”

Magistrates banned the Cheshire woman from driving for 21 months, imposed a fine of £1200, and ordering her to pay £620 costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

About Freeman & Co.

Freeman & Co. are a specialist firm of road traffic and criminal defence solicitors based in Manchester but with nationwide coverage.

Freeman & Co. specialise in a wide variety of road traffic cases, ranging from drink driving, speeding and mobile phone offences, to name but a few.

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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