A police officer watched as a man who appeared to be under the influence of drugs got into the driver's seat of a car.
The officer was 'surprised' to see Robert Chadwick trying to start the Vauxhall Corsa, South Shields Magistrates' Court heard.
"He had been in an off-licence in Fencehouses," said Lesley Burgess, prosecuting.
"The officer had heard Chadwick speak, and also watched him walk unsteadily towards the car.
"It appeared to the officer Chadwick was intoxicated, whether by drink or drugs."
Ms Burgess said Chadwick was arrested on suspicion of being in charge of a vehicle while unfit to drive through drugs.
"There is no evidence of him driving," added Ms Burgess.
"Tests revealed he had a cocktail of drugs in his system, although none were over the legal limit."
Chadwick, 38, of Gill Crescent South, Fencehouses, admitted being in charge of a vehicle while unfit to drive through drugs on October 24.
Paul McAlindon, defending, said: "Mr Chadwick is a life-long drug user.
"To his credit, none of the drugs in his system were above the legal limit, but he was still unfit to drive.
"Had he stood trial, the evidence of the police officers would likely have convicted him.
"Mr Chadwick is seeking help with his drug problems.
"The DVLA has been informed of his test results, and they have revoked his licence."
Chadwick was disqualified from driving for 12 months, and he was ordered to pay £235 in fines and costs.