A TATTOO artist was caught driving on the M6 near Carlisle with 16 times the legal limit of a cocaine derivative in his bloodstream.

At Carlisle’s Rickergate magistrates’ court, Joshua Taylor, 28, admitted three offences related to his decision to use the class A drug at a house party and then get into his car and drive north on the motorway to Scotland.

He admitted uninsured driving, and two offences of driving while over the drug-drive limit on August 20 this year. One related to the substance benzoylecgonine (a breakdown product of cocaine) and the other to ecstasy, also a class A drug.

Taylor had 12 times the legal ecstasy limit in his system.

Pam Ward, prosecuting, said another motorist alerted the police at about 3.50am after seeing the defendant’s Vauxhall car swerving on the motorway, suggesting the driver was under the influence of something.

Police stopped the car near Junction 44, north of Carlisle.

“The defendant smelled of alcohol, was slurring his speech, and his pupils were dilated,” said Mrs Ward. “The officers also noticed drugs paraphernalia in the central console of the car.”

A blood test later confirmed Taylor was over the drug drive limit. In court, Taylor told District Judge Gerald Chalk he was driving to Scotland to visit friends. A self-employed tattoo artist, he had battled anxiety for 14 years.

“A lot of the problems revolve around anxiety and depression,” he said.

He had asked his GP for help, and the doctor prescribed a drug called Sertraline but its side-effect – trembling of his hands – made work difficult. Taylor stressed he did not use illegal drugs during the drive.

The defendant admitted taking the cocaine and ecstasy at a house party, but he had not realised it was still in his system.

He added: “I was just tired. It was a silly mistake.”

Judge Chalk noted Taylor had no previous convictions but suggested the defendant’s drug use was a “significant problem,” given the amounts in his system. “It was a huge amount,” said the judge.

He imposed a 21-month driving ban on Taylor, from Telford, Shropshire, and told him to do 100 hours unpaid work in the community. The defendant must also pay £85 costs and a victim surcharge of the same amount.

The judge added: “Try to address your issue with drugs: you are using far too much.”