Drink-driver had car keys snatched by woman after he swerved onto pavement and into path of oncoming traffic

A drink-driving South Tyneside motorist had his car keys snatched by a witness who saw him swerve onto a pavement and drive into the path of oncoming traffic.

But Michael James, 46, exited his Ford Mondeo after his behaviour at the wheel between South Shields Town Hall and Western Approach, at Laygate, had been noticed – and asked for them back.

But the key taker had safely returned to the passenger seat of a motor which had tailed James on Saturday, December 18, and police were called.

South Tyneside Magistrates Court heard officers found an opened bottle of wine in James’s car and unopened beer – and at the roadside he admitted to being drunk.

The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

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Prosecutor Niamh Reading said: “The witness was in her car with her daughter on Beach Road when they noticed a silver car coming from the right hand side, towards the town hall.

“When it came off the mini roundabout, it came onto the pavement and swerved back to the right to correct itself.

“It then made a right turn at traffic lights and went onto the wrong side of the road, towards oncoming traffic.

“It continued on to Western Approach and past a roundabout near Victoria Road, where it stopped but began to roll backwards towards the witness’s car. She had to reverse.

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“The woman’s daughter jumped out and went towards the defendant’s car and took the keys out of the ignition.

“She went back to her own car. He began walking towards her and got hold of the door handle, suggesting he was trying to get his keys back.

“He was unsteady on his feet. He said, ‘I want my keys’. Police arrived and they noticed he was swaying from side to side.”

James gave a breath test reading of 94mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mcg.

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He pleaded guilty to drink-driving, and the court heard he was convicted of the same offence in May 2011.

Val Bell, defending, told magistrates: “There’s a tremendous amount of mitigation I can put forward on his behalf, but you’re going to need a pre-sentence report.”

Magistrates imposed an interim driving ban on James and granted him unconditional bail to be sentenced at the same court on Tuesday, January 25.