BMW driver on A65 was more than four times the drink-drive limit

Skipton magistrates told sound engineer Michael Close he was lucky to avoid a prison sentence and instead gave him a community order and 36 month driving ban.

Police responding to reports of a road traffic collision at just before 9am on July 14 last year, found Close, 55, still in the BMW 1 series car, the court heard today (Friday).

The car was half on and half off the road and was facing oncoming traffic. No other vehicles were involved.

Close was being tended to by an off duty paramedic and inside the car was an empty bottle of whisky and a bottle of cider.

He was taken to hospital where a blood sample revealed he had 358 milligrammes of alcohol in 80 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80.

Close, who admitted drink driving, accepted he was an alcoholic but had not drunk alcohol for 127 days since the incident. He was attending alcoholics anonymous and a group were he lived in Barnsley.

The court heard in mitigation and in a pre sentence report that Close had suffered following the death during Covid two years ago of his partner of 30 years.

In July last year he had been working on a short term, five day, contract in the Skipton area and had been commuting from his home in Barnsley.

Probation officer Andrew Watson told the court Close at the time Close had been drinking a bottle of spirits a day. On the day of the accident he had drunk half a bottle of whisky in the early hours before setting off.

Mr Watson said he regretted his actions, drinking had been a coping mechanism and he now believed he needed to abstain entirely.

Close’s solicitor added her client was glad to be in court to get it over with at last.

Magistrates told Close, of Avon Street, Barnsley, his alcohol reading was appalling and for some, the highest they had seen.

As a direct alternative to a prison sentence they gave him a 12 month community order with 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days. He will also have to attend a six month alcohol treatment programme.  He was also fined £311 and ordered to pay £114 surcharge and £85 costs.

He was banned from driving for 36 months. If he completes a drink driver rehabilitation course, his ban will be reduced by 36 weeks.

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