A Barnoldswick ex-soldier caught three times the drink-drive limit had had an alcohol problem for 27 years, since serving in Northern Ireland, a court heard.
David Hankin-Hallsworth was in a residential rehabilitation unit and was set to have treatment for the post traumatic stress disorder he may be suffering from.
Burnley magistrates were told the 51-year-old bachelor was stopped at about 6pm in Colne, by a public-spirited van driver who followed him, stopped him and then took his keys.
Hankin-Hallsworth, who had been drinking since early morning, had been on his way to his local shop for more alcohol. He blew 105 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.
The defendant, of Ridge Street, admitted driving with excess alcohol on Calf Hall Road and Monkroyd Road, Colne, on March 26th. He was fined £200, with a £30 victim surcharge, £30 costs and was banned for two years.
Mr Dylan Bradshaw (defending) said he was at a loss to explain why he got in the car. He admitted he had been drinking earlier in the day.
The solicitor said the defendant bore the psychological scars of two tours in Northern Ireland, between 1989 and 1995, when he was in the Queen's Lancashire Regiment.
Mr Bradshaw added: "He witnessed things there which have stayed with him. He lost colleagues and friends there. He has been drinking heavily since about 1990. Very clearly, he requires punishment but perhaps some compassion as well."
The defendant was being supported by veterans' organisation Salute.