A drunk driver was caught after police spotted him driving without lights.
Darren Corner was seen in his Nissan Micra pulling away from a pub car park in Bonemill Lane, Washington, at about 8.40pm.
He drove a short distance before pulling in to a car park beside the River Wear.
"Police were following because the Micra did not have its lights on," Lee Poppett, prosecuting, told South Shields Magistrates' Court.
"It was apparent to the officers when they spoke to Mr Corner that he had been drinking. He was compliant with them."
The court heard Corner was found to have a breath alcohol limit of 100, compared to the legal limit of 35.
Corner, 52, of Baysdale, Mount Pleasant, Washington, admitted driving with excess alcohol on March 27.
Chris Wilson, defending, said: "Mr Corner is a man of impeccable previous good character.
"About eight years ago he purchased a newsagent's in Dunston.
"He has been working 120 hours a week in that business to provide an income for him and his family.
"The business has suffered from competition from supermarkets.
"The stress of running it was getting on top of Mr Corner, and on this evening he took the foolish decision to have a few drinks in his local and drive home.
"It is something he bitterly regrets, but he has not sought to avoid taking responsibility for his actions.
"There are court proceedings in relation to mortgage arrears on his house.
"Mr Corner is in dire financial straits."
The bench disqualified Corner from driving for 23 months, and ordered him to pay £542 in fines and costs.