Woman gets driving ban despite claiming she wasn’t drunk when car crashed

South Tyneside Magistrates Court.
South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

A woman who failed the breathalyser test after crashing her car claimed she was not drunk at the time of the accident.

Julie Pringle said she had drank vodka and rum to steady her nerves when she got home after the crash.

Magistrates in South Tyneside were told police arrested Pringle, 50, less than an hour after the crash and found she was three times the legal limit for driving.

Pringle denied drink driving, but was convicted after a trial.

Stephen Davies, prosecuting, said: “At about 1.25am Pringle crashed into a bunker at the Town Hall filling station in South Shields. A member of staff on duty spoke to her, and formed the impression she had been drinking.

“He asked her to wait while he called the police but she made the excuse of returning to her car to switch off the engine and took the opportunity to drive away.

“When police arrived at her house a short time later, she confirmed she was the driver of the car, and told them she had drunk two trebles after arriving home to steady her nerves.”

Pringle, of St Vincent Street, South Shields, denied drink driving, and denied leaving the scene of an accident, both on May 30, last year.

She told the court: “I had been to a party to celebrate my 50th birthday, during which I had a bottle of Rose wine watered down with lemonade. We took a taxi home, but I couldn’t sleep because I was still hyper after the party.

“I decided I wanted a cigarette, but didn’t have any so I drove the short distance to get some thinking I would be OK to drive by that time.

“I offered to pay for the damage to the bunker, but that didn’t seem enough for the man in the garage. I was locked in the shop and felt frightened, so I did drive off.”

Graeme Cook, defending, outlined an expert’s report which found Pringle would have been just under the drink drive limit at the time of the crash.

He said: “The report supports Mrs Pringle’s account of events. It is obviously a matter for the bench what account you take of it.

“The issue in this case being recent consumption of alcohol.”

The magistrates convicted Pringle of both charges.

In mitigation, Mr Cook said: “The inevitable ban will be a severe punishment for Mrs Pringle. She is a lady of previous good character, who works for a respectable company. Having to get public transport to work will be a daily reminder of this conviction.”

Pringle was disqualified from driving for 24 months, ordered to do 80 hours of community work, and she was ordered to pay £710 costs.