A doctor’s receptionist who tested almost five times the alcohol limit after she collapsed in a drunken stupor while driving her BMW along a town’s high street has been spared jail – and will keep her job.
Fiona Travis, 44, a former teacher who had been living in Leigh, was so drunk at the wheel of her car she mistook a nightclub doorman who woke her up for two policemen and told him: ‘I’m sorry officers, I have been drinking tonight.’
The mother-of-three had been found unconscious in the driver’s seat of her stationary black 330e Sport after being seen moments earlier cruising ‘very slowly’ along the High Street in Leigh, Greater Manchester, in the early hours of the morning.
The concerned doorman who was about to clock off duty but tried to rouse Travis by tapping on the driver’s side window after a passer-by told him the vehicle had ground to a halt further up the street.
He then alerted police when he realised she was intoxicated.
Fiona Travis, 44, admitted drink driving in the early hours of January 15 this year
Police officers arrived shortly afterwards and a subsequent breath test showed she had 160 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, the legal limit being 35 microgrammes.
It emerged Travis had drunk white wine with a friend all night to discuss ‘childhood traumas’ before deciding to drive home.
At Wigan Magistrates Court, Travis faced jail after she admitted drink driving but was sentenced to 12 weeks’ custody, suspended for 24 months.
The court was told the mother-of-three had been self-medicating with alcohol
Abbie Clarke, prosecuting, said: ‘In the early hours of the 15th of January this year, a door supervisor from the Café Stella bar on King Street, Leigh, noticed a large black BMW driving very slowly past the venue.
‘Shortly after, a lady approached him and told him the same vehicle had stopped in the middle of the road and that the driver of the vehicle was unconscious behind the wheel. He approached the vehicle and tried to wake the driver up, but she was unresponsive.
‘After banging on the window, the driver, the defendant in this case, eventually woke up and rolled down the driver side window.
‘Once the window was opened, the door supervisor reached in and opened the driver door to get her out of the driver’s seat.
‘She then told him, ‘I’m sorry officers I have been drinking tonight’. He noticed that her speech was slurred, and she was heavily intoxicated.
‘The door supervisor then called the police who arrived a short while after. They conducted a roadside test on the defendant, which tested positive. After spending the night in custody, she was released on unconditional bail the following day.’
Travis had no previous convictions.
In mitigation, her lawyer Louise Barrow said: ‘She is deeply ashamed, and realises what she did was a stupidly misguided thing to do. Even before our interview she said she was very aware that other people could have been around at the time and hurt by her actions.’
Former teacher was on the verge of a nervous breakdown leading up to her arrest, court told
Miss Barrow added: ‘She has had a lot of issues in the lead up to the event. She admits self-medicating with alcohol and struggling to cope with some rather traumatising memories from childhood.
‘Her drinking had escalated as a result and she told her partner at the time in December, thinking he would provide her with the support she needed.
‘In fact, the opposite happened, he was not supportive at all. She then told me she just had to get through Christmas for the sake of the children and from that point onward, alcohol became her crutch.
‘On the night in question, she said she was on the verge of a breakdown. She went to a friend’s house to talk to her about her issues and ended up drinking wine until the early hours of the morning. She did not intend to leave the property by car.
‘She is a mother of three children from different fathers. They all live away from home. She is highly educated, up to degree level, and has previously worked as a teacher. She currently works as a receptionist in a GP’s practice and has been told her job is safe by her employer.
‘Since the event she has had to move from her former home in Leigh to her 79-year-old mother’s address in Garside Avenue in Warrington. He mother is in ill health and requires support and care from the defendant.’
Travis must also complete 15 rehabilitation activity days and pay the court £239 in costs. She was banned from driving for three years but was offered a place on a drink-driving awareness course which would reduce her disqualification by a quarter.
JP Keith Kynastone told her: ‘I am sure you understand the seriousness of this offence and its consequences. Fortunately, it did not cause an accident. If it had, you would have been facing much more serious repercussions.
‘We hope you fully realise the seriousness of what you have done or could have done to a pedestrian. You could have gone to prison. We hope to not see you back here again.’
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