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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Dangerous driving woman had been drinking, Carlisle court told

A woman who repeatedly refused to give a proper breath specimen to police after she drove dangerously on a major road will be sentenced by a judge.

A motorist raised the alarm after spotting Anita Baptist driving her Peugeot 308 towards Carlisle along the A595, near the city, during the evening of April 18.

Over five minutes, the 56-year-old was seen at the wheel of her car, weaving all over the road near Thursby, at times straying on to the wrong side of the carriageway and mounting the kerb.

Baptist, of Birchdale Road, Belle Vue, Carlisle, admitted dangerous driving and failing to provide a specimen of breath to the police so that it could be screened for alcohol.

Prosecutor Diane Jackson told Carlisle Magistrates’ Court how Baptist was spotted driving along the road at around 9pm, travelling at between 50 and 60mph.

The witness saw the car swerving, and crossing the road’s centre markings onto the wrong side. The witness feared there would be a crash, said Mrs Jackson.

At the police station in Carlisle, Baptist was asked to breathe into an intoxiliser machine to check whether she was over the limit, but despite five attempts she failed to get a reading. One of the police officers dealing with her concluded that she was deliberately obstructing the procedure, said Mrs Jackson.

Baptist confirmed that she had had a couple of glasses of wine over lunch with a friend in Cockermouth, but not enough, she thought, to put her over the limit.

Baptist’s barrister, Nicki Forster, told the court that her client was stressed when trying to give the breath sample, an experience she had never had before.

Miss Forster said: “She’s a lady who has always contributed to society and the impact that two convictions is going to have on her is in some ways punishment enough.”

She argued that the magistrates had sufficient powers to deal with the case, given that Baptist – affected by bereavements – would get a mandatory driving ban of at least 12 months.

Sending the case to Carlisle Crown Court, magistrates noted that in their opinion the dangerous driving had been prolonged. Baptist was given an immediate interim driving ban and bailed, to be sentenced at the Crown Court on June 6.

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