Felixstowe barmaid spared ban after being found drunk at wheel of car

Barmaid admits being in charge of a vehicle while above alcohol limit

Barmaid admits being in charge of a vehicle while above alcohol limit - Credit: PA

A mother whose son was killed by a drink-driver has called for a change in the law after a barmaid was spared a ban for being drunk in charge of a vehicle.

Laura Hollinger of Rectory Lane, Kirton, near Felixstowe kept her licence after being found asleep at the wheel beside the A14 and admitting she drove there after consuming alcohol.

Ipswich magistrates heard a breath test showed she was nearly three times the drink-drive limit.

The 34-year-old appeared in court to admit being in charge of a vehicle while above the alcohol limit. The offence does not carry a mandatory ban, although a charge of drink-driving does.

After Hollinger’s licence was endorsed with 10 points Jayne Jones, of Stowmarket, whose son Aiden, 20, was killed by drink-driver in 2009 said: “It makes me really angry when I hear these stories.

“I think the law should be changed. If someone admits to driving while over the limit they should face a mandatory ban even if they have admitted being in charge of a vehicle while above the alcohol limit.”

The offence carries a punishment range of a fine or community order, and endorsing a licence with 10 points or a disqualification.

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Hollinger’s Peugeot was spotted beside the A14 at 2.15am on July 5.

Magistrates heard she is currently unemployed, except for intermittent work at Trimley Sports and Social Club.

Hollinger had told the bench she would have difficulty finding and maintaining full-time employment without a car as the public transport service where she lived was poor.

Earlier prosecutor David Bryant said a police sergeant saw someone outside a vehicle on the A14 Port of Felixstowe Road, heading towards the dock spur roundabout.

The same officer saw the Peugeot 206 was still there – this time with the driver inside - when she came back on opposite carriageway.

She subsequently returned with a police constable and they found Hollinger sitting in the car with the keys in the ignition and seat belt fastened.

Her head was resting on the steering wheel and she appeared to be asleep, the court heard.

When Hollinger got out of the car she was unsteady on her feet and had to hold on to the vehicle to stand up.

Mr Bryant said she told the officers she had driven the Peugeot to its location and admitted she had been drinking.

A breath test showed Hollinger had 94 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mcgs.

Hollinger, representing herself, said she deeply regretted her actions.

She added: “I’m not entirely sure why I did it. I’m just really sorry.

“I lost my job that evening. I was working for a time in a bar. We had a few drinks. It was the last night of the pub trading.

“The silly thing is I have never, ever done anything like this before.

“I don’t know what it was. The alcohol made me think it was a good idea.”

In addition to Hollinger’s licence being endorsed, the magistrates fined her £120 and ordered her to pay costs of £85. She must also pay £30 to the victims’ fund.

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