Unpaid work for drink-drive pair almost four times legal alcohol limit
Two women have avoided possible jail sentences for driving while almost four times the legal alcohol limit.
Nicola Dowbiggin and Jennifer Gledhill were handed community sentences and banned from the road after they both admitted drink-driving before Ipswich magistrates on Tuesday.
Dowbiggin also pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker when caught behind the wheel of a Mercedes A-Class, involved in a single vehicle collision on the A11 at Thetford, on November 23.
The 49-year-old was heading towards Norfolk from home in Winfield Avenue, Brighton, when pulled over by police at about 1pm.
Prosecutor Colette Harper said Dowbiggin responded to the officer’s observation that her breath smelled of alcohol by explaining she had “eaten fish balls” an hour earlier.
When arrested for failing to provide a breath sample at the roadside, Dowbiggin became agitated, attempting to push past the arresting officer by grabbing her by the arm and stab vest.
David Allan, mitigating for Dowbiggin, who was found to have 135 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit being 35mcg – said her emotional fragility following continued difficulties at home had led her to drink in “extreme excess”. He said the former film producer was plainly a woman of previous good character, with no pattern of similar behaviour, who realised the consequences of her actions.
Dowbiggin was handed 100 hours of unpaid work, banned for 20 months and ordered to attend 15 days of rehabilitation activity requirement. For assaulting an emergency worker, she was given another 25 hours of unpaid work.
Also before the court, Jennifer Gledhill, 47, of Polstead Hill, in Polstead, near Stoke-by-Nayland, who was found to have 133mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath on December 6.
Howard Catherall, mitigating, said Gledhill had been under considerable pressure when she reached for a bottle of Amaretto – intended as an ingredient for a dessert to be served to guests of a dinner party that evening.
“She had an overwhelming urge to escape,” added Mr Catherall, who explained Gledhill drove a short distance before pulling over to drink more.
“Having finished, she decided to go home, but appreciated she was in no fit state to drive, and pulled over with the intention of sleeping things off.”
Gledhill was taken to hospital after a member of the public came across her poorly parked Land Rover Discovery and notified emergency services.
Mr Catherall said Gledhill had since taken steps to address underlying mental health issues.
As well as having to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and attend 10 days of rehabilitation activity requirement, Gledhill will be subject to a four-month overnight home curfew and 30-month driving ban.
Dowbiggin and Gledhill’s sentencing came after the half-way point of Suffolk police’s annual Christmas drink-driving campaign, which has seen 59-year-old Lowestoft man Martin Bolton jailed for 18 weeks and banned from driving for three years after being caught more than five times the limit on December 2.
An estimated 42 failed breathalyser tests, and potentially more than 50 positive drug wipes have been recorded this month.
Inspector Chris Hinitt, of Norfolk and Suffolk roads policing unit, said up to half a shift of police time was taken up by each drink and drug-driver.
“People can’t plead ignorance of the law,” he added.
“They know they’re not supposed to take drugs – and to have too much in their system to drive means they’re either stupid or don’t care.
“Neither can people plead they didn’t know they were over the alcohol limit and thought they were OK to drive. I say, rather than drink to the limit, don’t drink at all.
“There’s no excuse. If you’re fit and healthy enough to drive, you’re fit and healthy enough to make your own choices.
“Nothing you can say will make me have any sympathy, because you’re more likely to kill someone in an accident, and we have to deal with that at the other end.
“Most of these people are not hardened criminals – they’ve often never been in trouble.
“The vast majority of people get the message, but I’m tired of having to reiterate myself to those who still don’t care.
“I thank those who look after each other on the roads. To those who carry on doing it, I say keep checking your rear view mirror for flashing blue lights.”