Mother spared jail for drink-driving with son, 8, in car

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A MOTHER who was almost three times over the drink-drive limit when she crashed a car while her young son was a passenger has avoided a jail sentence..

Sharon Jane Wharton, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of driving while over the limit with her eight-year-old son in the Ford Mondeo.

Selby Magistrates Court heard that Wharton, who has a previous conviction for child cruelty, “smelled strongly of alcohol” when North Yorkshire Police officers arrived at the scene after her car collided with a bollard in the middle of the road.

Mark Thompson, defending, told the court: “Her intention that night had been to stay over at her sister’s house.

“Something happened, which Mrs Wharton cannot recall, which then made her make the foolish decision to drive home after she had been drinking.”

The court heard Wharton, of Field Avenue, Thorpe Willoughby, near Selby, tried to complete a roadside breath test but after three attempts no usable sample was given.

She was arrested by police and a blood sample was taken which showed 226 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal level is 80 milligrammes.

Mr Thompson said neither Wharton nor her son were injured in the crash, which took place in Sherburn-in-Elmet, on January 3 at 10.25pm, but added the high alcohol reading was aggravated by the fact a young child was also in the car.

“The incident happened two days before the anniversary of her husband’s death and so, although she knows it does not excuse her behaviour, it was a very difficult time for her,” he said.

“Mrs Wharton has no similar previous convictions and she expresses shame and remorse over what she has done.

“She is a single parent and she has had personal difficulties in her life but is working very well with numerous agencies to address these difficulties.”

Sentencing Wharton yesterday, the chairman of the bench, Brian Wood, said: “We were seriously considering sending you to prison.

“You are fortunate you are here today at a law court and not at a coroner’s court.”

Wharton was given a custodial sentence of 12 weeks, suspended for 12 months.

She was also handed a community order for 12 months which requires her to complete 250 hours of unpaid work and given an electronic curfew order for 12 weeks, meaning she must remain at home between the hours of 9pm and 5am.

Wharton has been disqualified from driving for three years, which can be reduced by nine months if she successfully completes a drink driving rehabilitation scheme.

She was also told to pay £85 court costs and an £80 victim surcharge.