Drink driver stopped at almost three times limit told police he had downed 'a few whiskies' to celebrate friend's birthday
A cable and pipe layer has been banned from the roads for driving a van on a busy Sunderland dual carriageway at almost three times the drink-drive limit.
Gheorghe Berinde, 39, of Kingston Avenue, Roker, Sunderland, was spotted behind the wheel of a red Ford Transit on Wessington Way by another motorist at about 9.30pm on Friday, November 8, a court heard.
Police who stopped him suspected he was under the influence of booze or drugs – and Berinde confessed to drinking whiskey with a friend when questioned.
Magistrates in South Tyneside were told a breath test revealed he had 102 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.
Berinde, who has worked in the UK for two years and has no previous convictions, was disqualified from driving for 23 months and fined £369.
Prosecutor Paul Anderson said: “Police received a report of a possible drink-driver and noticed this red Transit van being driven slowly on the road.
“Police stopped the vehicle and this man was the driver and he appeared to be under the influence of drink or drugs. He was arrested and taken to the police station.”
Jason Smith, defending, said: “He works very hard and he’s never claimed any benefits and has done nothing other than work since he came to the UK.
“This is a gentleman who has never been in trouble with the police, he is someone who works extremely hard.
“This was a one-off circumstance where Mr Berinde has been to friends of his after work and it was his friend’s birthday and he accepts that he had a few whiskies but before getting into the car. He felt absolutely fine.
“He is embarrassed that he is here before you today.”
Berinde, who pleaded guilty to drink driving, was also ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £36 victim surcharge.