Former Suffolk MP David Ruffley admits drink driving after four glasses of Prosecco
PUBLISHED: 09:35 02 March 2016 | UPDATED: 09:35 02 March 2016
A former Tory MP who crashed his car after getting drunk on Prosecco while on a ‘fasting diet’ has been banned from driving for two years.
David Ruffley, 53, was found slumped over the wheel of his black Volkswagen Golf following the prang in Westminster, central London.
Ruffley, former MP for Bury St Edmunds, told police he thought he could drive on four glasses of the Italian white wine and added: ‘I do it regularly’.
He also claimed that he hadn’t eaten anything before going out for drinks with a friend because he was on a fasting diet.
Ruffley stood down from his Parliamentary seat after being cautioned for assaulting a former girlfriend in 2014.
Westminster Magistrates Court heard Ruffley hit a Land Rover while parking in Page Street in the early hours of 27 January this year.
Malachy Pakenham, prosecuting, said: “At about 12:30am members of the public flagged down a police car saying a car hit another car whilst parking.
“On arrival, Mr Ruffley was slumped over his wheel and it was thought he was asleep.
“His car was touching the Land Rover in front of it.
“He said he had gone for drinks on Jermyn Street and had not eaten anything as he was on a fasting diet.
“He told officers he didn’t think four glasses of Prosecco was too much, and told them ‘I do it regularly’.”
Tests revealed he had 102 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - almost three times over the legal limit for driving.
Yvette Kresner, representing Ruffley, told the court the former MP was currently undergoing treatment for depression linked to his alcohol use.
She said: “He has sought out help himself, and is paying privately for the treatment.
“This is a man of 53 years of age who is of good character.
“He has let himself down and is thoroughly ashamed.”
Ms Kresner argued that he should be fined rather than given a community order because “Giving something back to the community is what he does on a daily basis”.
But District Judge Mark Studdert sentenced Ruffley to 80 hours of unpaid work and banned him from driving for two years.
The judge said: “Four glasses of Prosecco is a lot no matter what diet you are on.
“You were three times over the limit, and you made a conscious decision to drive home while you were seriously adversely affected and a danger to others.”
Ruffley, of Marsham Court, Marsham Street, central London, admitted driving with excess alcohol.
He was ordered to pay court costs totalling £145.