Dinner lady drank vodka and drove after hearing Kirstie Allsopp’s advice on low-calorie tipples

Rachel Nicholls leaving magistrates' court in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

Rachel Nicholls leaving magistrates' court in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A Kesgrave slimmer consumed enough vodka to be more than three times the driving limit after hearing the spirit helped burn fat.

Fitness enthusiast Rachel Nicholls drank in the driver’s seat of her Honda Accord after hearing presenter Kirstie Allsopp suggest it had calorie-reducing properties.

The 49-year-old, from Penryn Road, then drove off and collided with a number of vehicles, before being stopped from travelling any further by a watchful taxi driver on the afternoon of November 13.

Nicholls, a school lunch supervisor, wept throughout her hearing at magistrates’ court in Ipswich on Monday.

Prosecutor Wayne Ablitt said she was followed by Stuart Snowling until coming to a stop in Playford Road, where the taxi driver approached the driver’s side, removed the keys from the ignition and waited for police.

Nicholls, who had never been in court before, was found to have 114 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath – more than three times the legal limit of 35.

Solicitor Carol Robinson said her client had gone to work after her daily Zumba class and left at about 1.20pm.

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“At some point during the day, she heard Kirstie Allsopp discussing the low calorific content of vodka,” she added.

“Keen on reducing her calorie intake, having recently lost two-and-half stone, she bought a bottle from Tesco, before driving round the local area posting advertising for her husband’s motorcycle business.

“She hadn’t managed to eat, but had brought food away from work and pulled over to eat some pasta.

“In doing so, she also consumed the vodka with a can of coke.

“While checking her husband’s business emails, she got carried away. She’d never had vodka and thought it was like a soft drink, but felt unsteady after throwing the partly finished bottle away.

“After less than a mile of driving, her snap-on glasses broke and fell in her lap. At that point she came to a halt and the taxi driver approached her car.”

Nicholls was said to be in a “low mood” at the time, due to seasonal affective disorder symptoms.

Her solicitor said she was “very remorseful” and hadn’t touched alcohol since the incident.

Nicholls was banned from the road for 26 months, with the option of taking a rehabilitation course to reduce the ban.

She was charged £170 and must carry out 110 hours of unpaid work over the next year.

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