Five times drink-drive limit farmer escapes jail

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A Burnley farmer found to be around five times over the legal drink-drive limit has narrowly escaped a prison sentence.

Chairman of the Bench at Burnley Magistrates’ Court, Mr Gaskell told defendant Adam Whittle he was “very lucky” to receive a 12-week jail sentence suspended for 12 months as his reading was “literally off the scale”.

The court heard, on January 2nd, Whittle (44) was arrested by police at the wheel of his Land Rover at his Cliviger home after his erratic driving was reported by a female passenger in another car. He was breathalysed and the reading showed he had 161 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath, the legal limit is 35.

Magistrates heard Whittle, of Jumb Hole Farm, was found slumped at the wheel of his vehicle outside his home in Burnley Road. He had been earlier spotted by a witness in an area known as Portsmouth, between Todmorden and Cliviger. The witness was a passenger in a car in a lay-by. The passenger noticed the green Land Rover as it appeared to be driving rather slowly, around 25mph, which is unusual for this stretch of road. The witness watched the Land Rover move to the wrong side of the road across the white lines a couple of times and also stop at temporary traffic lights when they were on green.

Me David Leach (defending) said Whittle was hard working and a man of good character. He explained to the court: “Since this incident, he has realised he has issues with alcohol and has referred himself to Inspire, the substance misuse project.

“The distance he drove was not of significance and it wasn’t a road heavily populated with other drivers. However, he was very lucky to avoid a collision. On the day of the offence, after work he was persuaded to go for a drink and was given a bottle of whisky as a present. He is genuinely remorseful and ashamed of what happened and is truly terrified at the prospect of going to prison.”

Whittle was banned from driving for 36 months and told to attend a drink-drive rehabilitation course. He was also ordered to pay £80 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

Mr Gaskell said: “161 micrograms of alcohol is one of the highest readings I have ever come across.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable. Whatever possessed you to get into a car and then open a bottle of whisky? Have you any idea what damage you could have caused? It was a bad choice to go out, bad choice to drink and then bad choice to drink whisky. It beggars belief.”