Unemployed kitchen porter narrowly avoids jail despite being caught more than three times drink-drive limit by police
A former kitchen porter has been banned from the roads after being caught driving erratically while three-and-a-half times the drink-drive limit.
And Liviu Stefan, 59, avoided a possible jail term by blowing just under the level required for magistrates to consider putting him behind bars.
A court heard the Romania national, of Otterburn Crescent, Houghton, gave a reading of 118 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.
Prosecutor Lee Poppett said a reading of 120 microgrammes would have put him beyond the custody threshold.
The court heard Stefan had been out with a friend and thought that he was okay to drive.
Stefan was stopped by police who witnessed his antics in his Hyundai in Wheeler Street, Houghton, on Saturday, June 6.
He has now been handed an interim ban by magistrates in South Tyneside and his case adjourned for pre-sentence reports.
Mr Poppett said: “It’s about 3.20am and an officer in an unmarked car sees the defendant driving in an erratic manner in Wheeler Street.
“The driver is stopped and identifies himself as the defendant, Mr Stefan.
“He gives a positive roadside breath test. The lowest reading at the police station is 118 microgrammes in breath.
“Mr Stefan is a man of previous good character. Records from police show no previous convictions or cautions.
“A reading of 118 microgrammes, you may feel is at the higher end of the second top level of offending.
“Two more microgrammes would have put Mr Stefan over the custody threshold.”
Annalisa Moscardini, defending, said: “Mr Stefan fully accepts this offence and is very sorry for it.
“He’d been out with a friend and thought that he was okay to drive, but clearly he wasn’t.
“He’s a man who’s never been in trouble before. He’s had a clean licence for 39 years. He has no convictions here or in Romania.
“He was a kitchen porter but has been laid off, due to the virus, and is now trying to get Universal Credit.
“He’s not in a job at the moment but he’s a hard-working man. He doesn’t have an issue with alcohol.”
Stefan was granted unconditional bail to appear at the same court for sentencing on Tuesday, September 8.