Page last updated at 17:01 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

England rugby star's driving ban

Mike Tindall leaving Thursday's hearing
Mike Tindall was a member of the World Cup winning team in 2003

England and Gloucester rugby player Mike Tindall has been banned from driving for three years.

The Gloucester centre, boyfriend of Zara Phillips, admitted being over the legal drink-drive limit on the M4 in Berkshire, on 15 March last year.

He was arrested the morning after attending the Cheltenham Racing Festival with Ms Phillips.

Tindall, 30, of Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, was also fined 500 with 75 costs by Reading magistrates.

The court was told that on the evening before his arrest, Tindall had drunk three beers followed by seven glasses of champagne.

He later went to a restaurant where he drank a further beer and a vodka and Red Bull, finishing drinking at around midnight.

He was arrested the following morning, at about 1045 GMT, and taken to Newbury police station where he gave a blood test.

Officers recorded a level of 91mg of alcohol in 100ml of Tindall's blood. The legal limit is 80mg per 100ml.

At the time of the offence, Tindall was out of action with a bruised liver, which he suffered playing against Wales.

I feel strongly that people need to be educated about this as I have been
Mike Tindall

He had been driving alone to Twickenham, west London, to commentate on England's Six Nations game against Ireland, on the day of his arrest.

The court was told the attention of motorway police was drawn to Tindall's Range Rover Sport which appeared to be exceeding the 70mph speed limit.

Officers followed and watched the vehicle being driven "erratically" and touching the white lines on either side of the lane.

After it swerved across all three lanes into Reading Service Station police decided to speak to the driver about the manner of his driving.

When speaking to Tindall they could smell alcohol on his breath. He admitted he had drunk alcohol the day before but not that day, the court heard.

The court was also told Tindall had a previous conviction for drink-driving in 2000, for which he was disqualified for 16 months.

The case had been delayed at previous hearings since he pleaded guilty last July while his defence team sought to produce expert medical evidence regarding the effect of the injury on his liver function.

But at Thursday's hearing his barrister Mark Milliken-Smith told the court that he would no longer be seeking to put any "special reasons" before the court.

'Rehabilitation course'

He added: "He drove that day not knowing he had a low alcohol elimination rate and secondly, if he had a normal rate, he would have been well under the limit.

"That is why he finds it difficult to accept that in this particular case he had driven without proper responsibility.

"That position has changed because this alcohol elimination rate is particularly low and he will have to temper his life in future."

Tindall will undertake a drink-drive rehabilitation course as part of his punishment.

He did not comment to waiting reporters as he left the court but in a statement issued by Gloucestershire Rugby later, he said:

"I have learnt that what you perceive to be a safe time to wait before one drives after drinking, particularly the following morning, can be totally wrong and I apologise for my actions.

"As the court accepted I was wholly unaware that my alcohol elimination rate is in the lowest 2% of the population and, had that rate been normal, I would have been substantially under the limit.

"I now understand there is no such thing as a normal alcohol elimination rate as everyone is different. Therefore everybody must be very careful to ensure that they leave a very substantial gap between any drinking of alcohol and any later driving.

"I feel strongly that people need to be educated about this as I have been."



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SEE ALSO
Delay over rugby player sentence
25 Oct 08 |  England
Tindall admits drink-drive charge
07 Jul 08 |  Berkshire
Drink-drive charge for rugby star
30 Apr 08 |  Gloucestershire
Tindall 'drink-drive' allegation
18 Mar 08 |  Gloucestershire

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