Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 13:26 UK

Big glass warning after drive ban

Wine glass (generic)
Women could unwittingly drink more the court heard

A motorist banned for drink-driving says she wants to warn of the dangers of drinking too much alcohol from large glasses used by bars and pubs.

Jacqueline Atkinson, 44, of Llandudno, Conwy, said she "never imagined" she was over the limit after drinking one large glass of wine.

She was banned from driving for a year and fined £450 by a Flintshire court.

She weighs only eight stone and said after the case she feared slim women could unwittingly be caught out.

Her solicitor said the training officer was devastated by the offence.

Speaking after the case, Atkinson, said she was worried that pubs and bars now routinely serve large glasses of wine without asking the customer.

The best thing I can do is warn women, particularly slim women, so that they don't get caught out this way
Jacqueline Atkinson

Atkinson said she could prove that she had a meal between two meetings and that she bought one glass of wine only.

Her lawyer, Stephen Mullarkey, handed magistrates a national newspaper cutting highlighting a government clampdown to get wine sold in smaller glasses, to prevent women unintentionally exceeding safe drink driving levels.

"I was completely oblivious to the problem," she said outside the court.

"I was between meetings, I had an hour-and-a-half to kill, and I had a meal and a glass of wine."

She said the glass did not seem particularly large because she had large goblets at home.

Shocked

"I was distracted doing my paperwork and after ordering one glass of wine I never imagined that I would be over the limit," she said.

"Otherwise I would never have gone near the car," she added.

She said she was shocked when she was first charged.

"Drink drivers are demonised and I felt as if I had two heads," she said.

"But I thought it through and the best thing I can do is warn women, particularly slim women, so that they don't get caught out this way."

In court prosecutor Robert Blakemore told how on 20 March two police officers were filling up their patrol car at the west bound Northop Services of the A55 at Northop, when they were approached by a member of the public who said a woman at the next pump smelt of alcohol.

Altkinson admitted driving with 57 microgrammes of alcohol in her breath compared to the legal limit of 35.

She was banned from driving for a year - reduced to nine months if she completes a drink drive rehabilitation course - and was fined £450 with £135 costs.


We asked you for what you thought of the issue Jacqueline Atkinson has raised? Here are a selection of your views.

It is easy to blame the establishment that served the wine. If you are driving the only way to be safe is to employ a zero alcohol policy. It would have been just as easy for Mrs Atkinson to have consumed a soft drink with her meal and kept the wine for one of the "large goblets" that she has at home, when there is no danger of having to drive.
Nathan Adams, Vale of Glamorgan

She drank drove and now instead of taking her punishment either for her unbelievable stupidity or her intentional chancing of the odds she bleats excuses of ignorance. Everyone knows how much you should alcohol drink if your going to drive - regardless of your sex or build - to be sure of being safe and thats NOTHING. Grow up Jackie and realise that being on or just under the limit is no better really than being slightly over
Susie, Brentwood essex

Quite obviously the lady in question is making a reasonable point, and one which will probably prevent others making the same mistake and even (hypothetically though of course not really) save lives. And by the way, a zero tolerance approach to alcohol in the bloodstream is entirely unnecessary, but more importantly completely impractical and unenforceable, since it would mean a half of shandy drunk the night before, or even certain medicines that contain minute amounts of alcohol, could get one arrested and run through the system.
James Morgan, Cardiff

Sorry but you took the risk and now you must do the punishment. Drinking anything and drving is not aceptable.

Paula, Worcestershire

OK, we all do stupid things intentionally or inadvertently, but isn't time with today's great technology that all bars/pubs/restaurants had some form of public 'breath test' equipment/kit freely available so that we CAN know our personal alcohol level before we drive? That way there is no excuse for the crime. Diabetics can test their glucose - why can we self-test our booze intake?
Frances Rogers, reading bbc e-news in the Bahamas

I support a zero alcohol policy in many more aspects of life than driving including walking and cycling in/on the roads but we should all deal with the faults of others as gently as we deal with our own !!.
Richard Norris, Vale of Glamorgan

To Frances Rogers, these items you speak of are available in some, not all licenced establishments in the uk, more often seen in europe, but, Zero Alcohol = no risk to yourself or others when driving, sorry, but its difficult to have time for people who disregard the law. Simple ananlogy, drink alcohol,then drive, risk getting nicked!
Jurek Brown, llandudno

Typical! Everyone elses is blamed. She had a drink, drove and got caught. She will be on a cruasade next telling how bad it is to drink and drive.
John Hummer, Sheffield

Give the woman a break! While the law doesn't adopt a 'zero alcohol' approach, people will make mistakes. I also agree that breath tests should be more readily available. Shame not everybody is as perfect as the people in the previous comments!
Emma, Carmarthen

forget all the excuses some one could have died....to stop yourself ending up in the same situation or worse...theres 1 simple rule if you drink anything you dont drive if you drive you dont drink anything with any alcohol in it that way you cant ever be over the limit...
Maggie, Kent

If I know I'm driving I don't touch a drop. That's that best and safest way to be so that you dont get into trouble in the first place. She shouldn't have had any alcohol at all knowing that she would be driving. end of.
Nat, Leicestershire

I have always adopted a "zero alcohol" approach, I never have alcohol when I am going to be driving, even if it's the following day. I think this should be made law, no confusion, and much safer.
Carole, Newport, Gwent

I can't see what all the bleating is about. She never ran anybody over, she wasn't paralytic, she just had a glass of wine. There are more important things to worry about in society. like why can't you walk about in any large town after dark without risk of being attacked. People who can't stand up can still get behind a wheel, those and the repeat drink-drivers with an alcohol problem, they are the ones to go for. Stop going for the soft options and criminalizing the innocent.
chris pannell, orlando

"Don't Drink and Drive" we are told - but you can have x amount and be ok. Being 5ft and 8 stone there is no way I could drink a small glass of wine and be fine to drive. I'd rather not drink at all.
Gaynor, Swansea

I agree with Emma that while the law doesn't adopt a 'zero alcohol' approach, people will make mistakes... however, I beleive that the actual limit itself is confusing. On many cans and bottles of varying types of alcohol, we are told how many 'units' (1 unit = 10ml alcohol) are present but I simply cannot find how this translates to 35 microgrammes of alcohol in breath. It would be far safer if people could associate the unit information with the actual law to make informed...or sometimes foolish... decisions
Ryan Davies, Mid Glamorgan

This one is a no brainer. If you're driving then its soft drinks only. No stupid excuses about how "I only had one" or "I'd eaten a meal as well" or "I didn't realise how much alchohol I'd had".

Davva, Soutn Wales

For all those Samaritans out there you say she is to blame, any body thought that after they have a drink the night before and pick up the car the next day your still over the limit. Face it we have done it knowing it or not. More should be done to warn all motorists about drink driving, but that would not be a good source of income would it.
David , Cardiff

David, Cardif - no we havent all done it. Drinking and driving is a crime, and ignorance is simply no excuse, neither is ignorance about speeding or mobile phone use. If in any doubt, dont take the chance...simple as that..
Martin, Wirral, Merseyside



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