Businesswoman was over limit

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A PROMINENT Ribble Valley businesswoman failed a breathalyser as she drove home from a staff training meeting.

Blackburn magistrates heard Hilary Cookson, owner of the Maureen Cookson of Whalley, was stopped after she drifted onto the wrong side of the road into the path of an approaching police car.

Cookson (51), of Moss Side Lane, Thornley, near Longridge, pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol. She was fined £560 with £70 costs and banned from driving for 15 months. Cookson gave a reading of 59 against the legal limit of 35.

Mr Alex Mann (prosecuting) said the police car was forced onto the grass verge to avoid a collision with Cookson’s Honda CRV as the vehicles met on Preston Road, Longridge.

Mr John Hardwyck (defending) said Cookson, who owns two businesses and is a consultatnt to another, had attended a training evening for 18 members of staff. At the end of the session she gave her chef £50 to buy a drink for her employees.

“She had no intention of drinking or even having a late night because she had a business meeting the following morning,” said Mr Hardwyck. “The staff begged and pleaded with her to go to the pub with them and unfortunately she weakened.”

He said Cookson drank three glasses of white wine and soda and then took the risk to drive home shortly after midnight.

Mr Hardwyck added that Cookson had a very demanding work schedule. She was also recently divorced and responsible for driving her daughter to school every morning.

“The consquences of this event are going to be far reaching for her,” said Mr Hardwyck. “Prior to this she has never even been stopped by the police.”