Sunderland couple both caught drink-driving after woman 'panicked' and crashed BMW
A couple who went out drinking then both drove while over the limit after a crash caused them to swap turns behind the wheel on their way home.
Dean Lovert took his non-driving girlfriend Tracey Turner, 51, to a Sunderland city centre pub in his BMW on Saturday, July 11.
Lovert, of Donnison Gardens, intended to leave the motor parked up and collect it when sober, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.
But on leaving, Turner, of Holly Court, Millfield, jumped into the driver’s seat and accelerated away, with Lovert as passenger.
Magistrates heard she suffers with mental health issues and had been in a rush to get back to a “safe place”.
She crashed seconds later near the Borough pub – and panicked Lovert swapped seats and drove them both away.
The accident was witnessed by others and police quickly traced the pair, breathalysing both and finding each over the limit.
Prosecutor Kirstie Devine said: “What happens is that police receive a call that a female, driving a vehicle, has had cause to stop.
“There’s been some words exchanged with the male. He gets in and drives away.”
The court heard neither defendant had any previous convictions.
Richard Copsey, defending, said: “It’s very sad when 50 year old people come to court for these kind of things.
“It’s down to what’s been happening at the moment. They’ve gone to town for a drink.
“He only lives about 300 metres away and parked the car in Borough Road, he was going to leave it there.
“For some reason, she jumped into the car and put her foot down but crashed into the side of the road near the Borough pub.
“People see them. He gets in and drove about 400 yards away.”
He added: “Ms Turner is on long-term sick for mental health problems, her medication hadn’t arrived. She wanted to get home to a safe place.
“She simply panicked, she can’t offer any explanation, she can’t drive.
“He’s only slightly over the limit, she is twice the limit. There were no aggravating features. This was a properly legal car.
“She has got herself in a bit of a state, thinking she may go to prison for this offence.
“If it hadn’t been for the problem with her medication, they wouldn’t be here.”
Lovert gave a breath test reading of 54mcgs of alcohol in 100mls of breath, and Turner 71mcgs. The legal limit is 35mcgs.
Both pleaded guilty to drink-driving and Turner also admitted driving without a licence and without insurance.
Lovert was banned from driving for 12 months and fined £120 with £85 court costs and a £34 victim surcharge.
Turner, who the court heard had no intention of driving again, was disqualified for 17 months and fined £120 for drink-driving.
She was fined £120 for driving without insurance and given six penalty points and must pay £85 court costs and a £34 victim surcharge.
There was no separate penalty for driving without a licence.
Magistrates offered Lovert access to the national drink-driver rehabilitation course, which gives a quarter reduction to a ban on successful completion.