THREE people who flagged down and stopped a drink driver travelling along a dual carriageway have been commended by magistrates.
They were so concerned about the behaviour of the driver in front they stopped his vehicle on the A55 in Flintshire. When they realised the driver was drunk they took his ignition keys, pending the arrival of the police.
Magistrates said the members of the public who pursued driver John Michael Sutton, a 46-year-old gardener, showed great public spirit and should be commended.
It was clear they may have prevented a horrific if not fatal accident, they said.
Flintshire Magistrates Court at Mold heard Sutton drove from his home in Wetherby in Yorkshire and was making his way to Rhyl, when he was stopped in the Halkyn area.
He was found to be three times the drink drive limit, with 110 microgrammes of alcohol in his breath.
Sutton admitted the drink-driving offence on Friday, September 13 and was banned from driving for 28 months.
He was placed on a 12 month community order with supervision, was ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work and pay £145 costs.
Alun Humphreys, prosecuting, said Sutton’s Rover car came to the attention of three occupants of another vehicle at about 5pm on September 13 on the A55.
He was seen to be driving erratically, crossing over to the off-side lane and then back and across the nearside lane markings.
“Their concern was such that they made a public spirited attempt to stop the vehicle,” Mr Humphreys said.
As they approached the Caerwys off-slip they had managed to alert the driver to the fact that they wanted him to stop.
They flashed their lights and eventually the car came to a halt.
They had a brief conversation with Sutton and it became apparent he was under the influence of intoxicants.
His speech was slurred and there was a strong smell of intoxicants coming from the vehicle.
“It is fair to say that he fully co-operated with them and handed over his car keys when they asked him to do so,” Mr Humphreys said.
The police arrived and arrested Sutton, now of Pen Y Cefndy Road, Rhyl. He provided the 110 microgrammes breath test reading - compared to the limit of 35 at St Asaph police station.
Interviewed, he said he drank three bottles of wine the previous night between 10pm and 5am. He woke up at about 9.30am and had a couple of mouthfuls of wine “to take the edge off it”, before driving to North Wales.
He accepted he had a drink- problem at the time.
Brian Cross, defending, said Sutton was a self-employed gardener who would have to sign on for benefits as a result of the inevitable ban.
He had since sought help and counselling though his GP. He had no previous convictions.
“It is unfortunate, “ he said.
“People do not always see alcohol as an illness but it quite clearly is. He has dealt with this very sensibly.”