Wine-loving gran who was 'eight out of 10 drunk' at 11am avoids jail despite FOURTH drink-driving conviction
A BOOZING granny has been spared jail after being convicted for a FOURTH time for drink driving – blaming her drinking on severe loneliness.
Alison Maher, 50, was more than three times over the limit at 11.20am after driving to see pals in Prestbury, Macclesfield.
The ex-senior supervisor at an aerospace firm admitted that she had been “eight out of ten” drunk when she was arrested on January 7.
Stockport Magistrates Court heard that Maher had driven 13 miles to see her friends, but was spotted driving on the wrong side of the road before mounting a grass verge by a passing motorist.
They called the police after spotting her Kia Sorrento driving erratically, and officers discovered the car partially parked in a lay-by with the rest of the vehicle sticking out into the road.
Cops also discovered a bottle of wine which was a quarter full on the passenger seat of the car.
Horse lover Maher had 119mg of alcohol in 100mililitres of breath – more than three times the legal limit of 35g.
Maher, from Chinley, Derbyshire, had previously been convicted of drink driving in 1999, 2008 and again during 2016.
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She admitted the latest offence, and was handed an eight week prison sentence which was suspended for a year.
Stockport Magistrates court heard that she had hit the bottle after five years of sobriety because she felt “isolated” from her family following a house swap.
Prosecutor Mr Robin Lynch said: "The motorist suspected the driver may be driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs. They described how the driver was driving very erratically and was driving on the opposite side of the road.
''They described how the driver mounted a verge before coming to a stop.
"The member of the public then went to see the defendant and described how she was incoherent. The car was half parked in the lay-by and the other half in the road.
“There was a quarter of a bottle of wine left on the passenger seat. The defendant later told police things had taken a turn for the worse for her.
"She had been sober but since moving away from her family, she had started drinking again.
"She said she thought her driving was okay but she drank a large amount of wine from the wine bottle in the passenger seat and described herself as being 8/10 drunk.''
A background report compiled by a probation officer said: “Unfortunately, the defendant had moved away from her family following a house exchange. In the early hours of that morning, she had some anxiety due to feeling isolated and did turn to drink.
''She was on her way to the stables and then purchased another bottle of wine after being at the farm. She decided to visit someone in Hazel Grove and took the back roads.
"Due to it snowing, she panicked, pulled over and drank more wine. On the morning, she thought she would be able to drive but after pulling over she admits she would have been at excess levels for drink driving.
She wishes she had stayed at home. She turned to drink to help with the isolation.
"She accepts what she has done and is ashamed of herself. She is ashamed her alcohol issues have affected many relationships.
"She accepted she was putting other road users at risk and there would have been a possibility of an accident.
"She wishes she had stayed at home. She turned to drink to help with the isolation.
"She has sold the car and is adamant that she will not drive again. She wants help and apologises to the court for her behaviour. She is extremely remorseful."
Defending Maher, Anthony Derbyshire added: “This is a lady who has a long-standing illness relating to alcohol dependency. This first stems back to the 1990s when she was in a mentally abusive relationship.
"Later, she went to live with her grandmother who she cared for, but she then lost her grandmother and that escalated her reliance with alcohol, and she has struggled to get back on top of that.
"She managed to get sober but alcohol became an issue again when she had to give up her three-bedroom property in Marple where she had a support network around her.
"However, due to bedroom tax, she found herself not able to afford to live in Marple and she was forced to move to Chinley in May 2021.
''From September 2021, she found she was becoming withdrawn, and her mental health started deteriorating again due to her feeling isolated. It was then that alcohol started to drip back into her life.
“On the day in question, she was having a very low mood day. She had a horse and had gone to attend to it and was then was due to go out and see a friend.
"But she made the decision to drive having already consumed alcohol and she bitterly regrets that decision. She has now disposed of her car and sold that so there is no temptation to drive at all.
“She is ashamed she had taken to alcohol again after a period of abstinence. This is a lady who needs help and support in her battle against her alcohol illness.”
Maher was ordered to complete a three-month alcohol treatment programme, ten rehabilitation requirement days and was banned from driving for four years and four months.
She was also ordered to pay £213 in costs and surcharges.
Sentencing Maher, chair of the bench, JP Lynn Bennison said: "We have looked at the aggravating features of this case, you brought yourself to the attention of a member of the public whilst driving after you had drank alcohol.
"You drank alcohol whilst in the vehicle and have previous convictions for similar driving offences and the distance you drove.
''We have been told that you are alcohol dependant but you were five years sober at one stage. You have assessed support with your drink and the crisis team for your mental health.
"You have support from your family, have shown remorse and disposed of your car. This offence was so serious that the custody threshold has been passed but we are going to suspend it."
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