An Ulster Unionist Party councillor who resigned from his post on Wednesday has appeared at court and pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol in his breath.
Mark McKinty (31), of Bankhall Road in Magheramorne near Larne, had represented the Larne Lough electoral area on Mid & East Antrim Borough Council.
The Ulster Unionist Party said on Wednesday the councillor had tendered his resignation ahead of the court case.
Ballymena Magistrates Court, on Thursday, heard the defendant had a previous drink driving conviction from Laganside Court in Belfast in 2013.
At Thursday’s court, the defendant was banned from driving for three and a half years and fined £400.
A prosecutor said police on mobile patrol at 11pm on July 5 this year at Ballypollard Road near Larne saw a slow moving vehicle with its full beam lights on.
When they spoke to the defendant his eyes were glazed, he was slow to respond, he appeared to be confused and smelt of intoxicating liquor.
The defendant had an alcohol in breath reading of 118 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35mcgs.
Defence barrister Chris Sherrard said the defendant was a single man who lived at home with his parents.
The barrister said his client has been travelling a “short distance” on the night in question from a friend’s house and after taking drink he had made the “very unwise” decision to drive home.
Mr Sherrard said the defendant had been under “a great deal of stress” at the time.
The defence lawyer said his client had been an elected representative on Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and had resigned the post meaning a “budding political career lies in ruins now”.
The court was told the defendant earned £1,100 a month as a councillor and also runs a restaurant in the Larne area.
Mr Sherrard said his client apologised for the drink drive offence and recognised he had to be punished.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said he could take into account the guilty plea but there were two two significant aggravating factors – a “very high reading” and a previous appearance for a similar offence at Laganside Court in Belfast in 2013.
The judge said that, sadly, participation in the drink driving course, after the 2013 offence had not stopped him from re-offending.
Banning the defendant and fining him, the judge warned him that if he was in court a third time for drink driving he would run the risk of a custodial sentence.
After leaving court the former councillor told ‘Ballymena Daily’: “Obviously there was a grave mistake made and I issued a heartfelt apology for that.
“I also resigned my position on the local council which I felt was the right thing to do.
“All I can say is that I re-issue the apology with the utmost sincerity to residents and anyone who has felt let down”.
Asked if he hoped to get back into politics again he said: “That’s yet to be seen”.