Expectant dad drove Audi 'erratically' while almost twice the drink-drive limit after 'difficult times'

A new dad has been banned from the roads after being caught driving erratically at almost twice the legal booze limit by police in South Tyneside.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 12:31 pm

Matthew Stephenson, 20, had split with his pregnant girlfriend who had told him he would not be allowed to see their child, a court heard.

In response to what magistrates were told were “difficult times”, Stephenson drank alcohol and got behind the wheel of his three-year-old Audi A1 on Friday, June 7.

But South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court was told police spotted him driving too fast for the conditions at 1.30am on the A194 Leam Lane, which runs between the A19 in Jarrow and Whitemare Pool - and pulled him over.

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A roadside breath test gave a positive reading, and a follow-up blood sample taken at a police station showed 157 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

The legal limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol.

Prosecutor Jeff Taylor said: “A PC observed the defendant in an Audi. He followed the vehicle because he believed he was travelling too fast for the road conditions. Driving erratically is the best way to describe it.”

Tom Iceton, defending, told the court Stephenson had become a father five days ago and was now reunited with his girlfriend.

He added: “It’s a bit of a shock to his system, being in a police station and being here today.

“He had difficulty at the time. His girlfriend was pregnant, and they had split up and she wouldn’t let him see the child. He didn’t consider things properly.

“He and his girlfriend are now together and have a five-day-old child. Everything is hunky dory apart from this.

“He wants to apologise and wants you to accept that this was a one-off, due to it being a stressful time.”

The court heard Stephenson, who pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, did not need to drive in his job as a fabricator and would keep his employment.

District judge Kathryn Meek told him: “You were significantly over the limit. You may have been having problems but none of that in any way is an excuse or justification for putting other road users in danger, which is what you did.”

Stephenson, of Rockwood Gardens, Greenside, Gateshead, was banned for 19 months and offered the option of getting his ban reduced through a drink-drive rehabilitation course.

He was fined £332, ordered to pay a £33 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.