Drunk pensioner found behind the wheel had drank three quarters of a bottle of vodka

A drunk pensioner found parked in a lay-by at 3pm had downed three quarters of a bottle of vodka, a court heard.

Thursday, 23rd August 2018, 10:19 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd August 2018, 10:40 am
The defendant was on medication for depression and anxiety and had panic attacks.

Rita Walker (71) was taken to the police station after she was found to be almost four times the drink-drive limit but failed to give a specimen for analysis. Burnley magistrates were told how Walker had been discovered on the A59 near Gisburn. Her solicitor said she had drunk the vodka after parking up and added: "She had no intention of driving away from that lay-by."

Miss Catherine Allan, prosecuting, told the court police received a call about a woman in the driving seat of a Volkswagen, drinking from a bottle of vodka in a layby. The prosecutor continued: "She appeared very confused. The keys were in the ignition, but the engine was not running."

A roadside breath test showed 126 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 mililitres of breath. The legal limit is 35. Walker did not give a test at the police station. Miss Allan said: "She blew into the tube, but didn't blow any sufficient amounts of breath for it to register as a reading."

The prosecutor added the defendant has two previous convictions for drink-driving from 1998 and 2002, when she had been banned for two and three years respectively. Mr Keith Rennison, defending, said Walker had argued with her partner and he had told her to get out of the house.

The solicitor continued: "She was extremely upset and jumped in her car. She had not had anything to drink at that point. She drove to the local shop, parked up in the lay-by completely sober, switched the engine off, and drank three quarters of a small bottle of vodka."

Mr Rennison said the defendant's intention had been to ring her partner, tell him she was in a lay-by drunk, and ask him to come and pick her up. The solicitor said Walker was anxious at the police station. She potentially had a defence to the offence on medical grounds as she was on medication for depression and anxiety and had panic attacks.

Mr Rennison said: "For the last 16 years, she has led an entirely blame-free life. She did genuinely attempt to provide a specimen, but failed to do so." The defendant, of Church Lane in Kelbrook, admitted being in charge of a vehicle and failing to provide a specimen for analysis at Clitheroe on July 30.

She was fined £80 with a £30 victim surcharge and £85 costs, and was given 10 points on her licence.