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A mother-of-six has been issued with a three year drink-driving ban for pushing a car to a safer place after it ran out of petrol.
According to Christine Prescott, her ex-husband had been behind the wheel of the Ford Ka when it broke down a few minutes’ drive from their home in Sawston, Cambridgeshire.
The ex-husband had apparently decided to abandon the vehicle and walked off to a nearby pub, however Prescott felt that the vehicle had been left “in a very dangerous place” and attempted to move it to a nearby parking spot.
The 52-year-old was spotted by police who had been called by a member of the public who saw her pushing the vehicle along a quiet residential street less than a mile away from her home.
Having failed to stop after an accident just two weeks earlier, Prescott had already been disqualified from driving for 28 days.
However, the police performed a breathalyser test at the scene, which found she had 50mgs alcohol in 100mls of breath - the legal limit is 35 micrograms.
Despite her plea that she had not entered the driver’s seat of the vehicle, Prescott was charged with driving whilst disqualified, driving whilst under the influence of alcohol and using a car without insurance. The former care assistant who had to give up her job following a breast cancer diagnosis, said: “As you can see, I'm going through this as well. I'm not the luckiest person.”
“The car was stopped in the middle of the road when it ran out of petrol and I was pushing it to the side of the road.”
“I had been sitting in it for about 15 minutes before the police came. They said someone had reported that the car had broken down, I don't know why. The key wasn't in the ignition or anything.”
Prescott claimed she was sitting in the vehicle at the roadside when she was breathalysed, having pushed it to the kerb to prevent any accidents.
Although Ms Prescott’s case is a complicated one, it highlights some important road traffic law.
Dave Nichols, of road safety charity - Brake, said: “This is a very unusual case, but will hopefully send out an important message.”
“The engine doesn't have to be running or you don't necessarily have to be behind the wheel in order to be prosecuted for drink-driving.”
“For example, simply having the keys on your possession or having an intention to take control of a vehicle could lead to a prosecution.”
“The message is clear, if you have been drinking alcohol, make sure you are never left in a position where the police could think you are in charge of that vehicle.”
“Remember, it's none for the road.”
Head of road policy at the AA, Paul Waters, said: “When you're pushing a car you are technically in charge of it”.
“Actually, pushing it is even more dangerous as you are a hazard on the road and it's very hard to control a car while you are pushing it.”
“It sounds as though she was in charge of that vehicle and in no capacity to do so.”
“She would have been classed as being responsible and drink driving is a high level offence.”
“Even sleeping it off in the car with keys in your pocket, not even in the ignition, you can be convicted for being in charge of the vehicle or intent to drive.”
“The court is able to hear the evidence and then make a judgement. It's not a surprising result in this case.”
You can find out more information about drink-driving law and consequences of drink driving on the Depatment for Transport’s Think! road safety website.
What is your opinion on Ms Prescott’s story? Do you think she was unfairly treated in these circumstances? Were you aware that you could be convicted of drink-driving offences without actually driving a vehicle? Leave your opinion in the comments section below:
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