TAXI DRIVER WAS TWICE DRINK LIMIT — (The Exeter Express and Echo)

Original article no longer available

The Exeter Express and Echo

11:40 – 19 September 2007

Taxi driver Catherine Hassard crashed into a hackney cab on her way home from work while at more than double the alcohol limit, magistrates have heard.

Hassard, 44, a freelance taxi driver who is now unemployed, broke down in tears when she was bann- ed from driving for 20 months by Exeter magistrates after pleading guilty to driving while over the alcohol limit. The court heard she had been taking prescribed medication at the time and had no previous convictions.

Prosecutor Deborah Hodges told magistrates that Hassard, of Exe Street, Exeter, was not on duty in the early hours of August 25 but had been heading home in the taxi vehicle after a drink, having finished work. The hackney cab driver was parked in his green Skoda taxi in Castle Street when Hassard’s Ford Mondeo hit its rear offside.

The prosecutor said: “He told her to stop and he got out of his vehicle and approached her. She was also employed as a taxi driver and said: ‘Please don’t call my office, I’m not working’.

“He was about to take a photograph of her vehicle when she tried to drive off. He stood in front of the vehicle and said: ‘Stop’.”

Breath tests at Heavitree Road police station showed Hassard’s lowest alcohol reading was 83mg in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.

The prosecutor added: “Hassard said she had finished work, had a pint, had something to eat, turned around and it was her right of way and the hackney cab pulled into her. She said she was on a lot of powerful medication at the time.”

Hassard, who was unrepresented, tearfully told the court that she did not agree with the other driver’s account of the accident.

She added: “He didn’t stand in front of me – he was running around like a headless chicken.

“I was writing down the details of the vehicles and he insisted on calling his boss.”

She told magistrates: “I think I’ve had enough of driving.”

Magistrates also fined the defendant £150 but made no order for costs due to her financial situation.

They withdrew a charge of driving without insurance, after it was proved that she had been properly insured.

Hassard was distressed when she was leaving the court.

She told the Echo: “I have been a taxi driver for six or seven years with no trouble. I’m off sick because of stress.

“I had only just started taking my medication for depression when this happened and I think my fruit drink must have been spiked.”