A FORMER nurse who was over the limit when she drove erratically including in the vicinity of a primary school has been given a suspended prison term and a four year road ban.
Michelle Ferguson (59), with an address listed as Churchfield Close in Portglenone, was spotted by an off-duty police officer in the Cullybackey area around midday on August 26 this year.
The defendant’s vehicle was being driven on both sides of the road “narrowly avoiding multiple collisions” and had come to a stop near a primary school where she got in and out of the vehicle.
Police eventually located the vehicle at Killyless Road, Cullybackey, with the defendant in the driving seat. She had an alcohol reading of 76 – the legal limit is 35.
In another incident – on September 8 last year – the defendant had gone to a shop in Portglenone where staff could see she had been drinking and she drove away.
Police were contacted and when spoken to the defendant had an alcohol in breath reading of 79 at Antrim PSNI Station.
At Ballymena Magistrates Court the defendant pleaded guilty to two charges of driving with excess alcohol in breath.
Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine said the defendant, who had given 40 years of service to the community as a nurse, was “very embarrassed”.
He said she retired due to health reasons and in recent years she had suffered a “lot of trauma” in her life had been in “freefall” and alcohol had become an issue.
In relation to last September, the lawyer said the defendant had drink taken the night before and more when she returned home from the shop and felt she had been OK to have been out but had nothing to eat and was on medication.
The lawyer said the defendant no longer had access to a car.
He said there had been “tragic circumstances” in the defendant’s life.
District Judge Nigel Broderick imposed a four months jail term, suspended for two years, along with a four year driving ban and a £300 fine.
He said it had been a “very poor piece of driving when intoxicated and it occurred within close distance to a primary school”.