Cider drinking driver almost five times limit when he took the wheel
- Credit: PA
A Suffolk man has narrowly avoided being sent to prison for driving while almost five times the alcohol limit.
Sean Kerr was seen drinking cider behind the wheel of his Ford Ka in Little Waldingfield, near Sudbury, on Sunday, April 22.
The 54-year-old, of Mallard Way, Great Cornard, admitted driving with 160 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit being 35mcg.
Prosecutor Tess Mann told Ipswich magistrates how Kerr was seen drinking from a large blue bottle of cider as his car passed a female motorist waiting to join the same road from a junction.
She said: “The driver pulled out behind the defendant and noted his car swerving all over the road, crossing the central white line.
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“She followed him to Great Waldingfield, where both vehicles came to a stop at the village store.
“She could see empty cans in the side compartment of his car as he got out to enter the shop.
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“He came back out with more cider and drove off – at which point, police were called.
“Following an area search, officers attended the address of the registered owner.
“They saw the car in a communal parking area, with the defendant in the driver’s seat and the engine running.
“They noticed an overwhelming smell of alcohol on his breath and several open bottles of cider on the passenger seat.”
Kerr had already been banned for 30 months and ordered to carry out unpaid work for driving with excess alcohol in March 2010.
Solicitor John Hughes said his client struggled with alcohol misuse and had recently suffered significant but undiagnosed health issues.
He said Kerr had walked away from his job reassessing employment and support allowance claims, due to the distress of refusing applications for entitlement to benefits.
“He believes the woman who reported him to police did him a favour because it stopped him short of hurting someone,” added Mr Hughes, who argued that Kerr could not properly address his alcohol problems if sent to prison.
Magistrates felt the offence had crossed the custody threshold but decided to suspend the 18-week prison term for two years.
“It will allow you to pursue treatment for your problem,” they told Kerr, before warning he would “almost certainly” go to jail for breaching the sentence by offending in the next two years.