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Suspended prison term for Essex woman who was five-times the drink-drive limit

PUBLISHED: 14:40 05 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:23 05 September 2017

A police officer breathalyzes a motorist (stock image). Picture: SIMON PARKER

A police officer breathalyzes a motorist (stock image). Picture: SIMON PARKER

A woman was found slumped at the wheel of her car after she “fell off the wagon” by drinking half a bottle of vodka – putting her five times the drink-drive limit.

Michelle Pearson, 44, of Chapel Street, Rowhedge, was shopped to the police after she was spotted driving erratically, hitting a curb in Newland Street, Witham, at 10am on August 16.

Today, Colchester Magistrates’ Court heard Pearson’s alcohol reading of 183mg in 100ml of breath was one of the highest they had ever seen.

She admitted driving while under the influence of alcohol and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, which was suspended for a year.

Lesla Small, prosecuting, said: “The driver was slumped over the wheel and when police arrived they smelled intoxicating liquor. She denied that she had been drinking but she was unsteady on her feet and her eyes were glazed.”

The court heard Pearson, who worked at Essex Wildlife Trust and who police described as a teacher when she was charged, was a recovering alcoholic who had been drinking the night before until 4am.

Frank O’Toole, mitigating, said Pearson denied she was slumped at the wheel and instead she had been upset at the time because of personal problems.

He said: “She has lost her very good job.

“She had been employed until her employers discovered she had been arrested and charged with this offence.

“Her job required her to drive her car. She is a recovering alcoholic and she had had recent problems of stress at work and with her partner which activated her alcohol urges.

“She is thoroughly ashamed of herself.”

Essex Wildlife Trust said after the hearing that Pearson had resigned from her post.

The court heard Pearson, who was tearful in the dock, had addressed her alcoholism following the incident by contacting addiction groups and had attended a group this week.

Mr O’Toole said: “She fell off the wagon and is determined to address the problem again.”

Chairman of the bench Helen Parr said she had no choice but to impose a custodial sentence because of the “exceptionally high reading”.

She said: “I think it is one of the highest readings we have ever heard in court and the sentence must reflect that.

“However, let me tell you straight away we are going to suspend that. You have no previous convictions and you are already seeking some help for your alcohol condition.”

Pearson, who mouthed “thank you” to the court, was told to carry out 120 hours unpaid work, disqualified from driving for 36 months and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

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