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Drug driver who forced string of cars off road finally stopped by member of public

Dee Buchanan leaving court.
Dee Buchanan leaving court.

A member of the public came to the rescue when a drug driver with two burst tyres forced a string of cars onto the verge while swerving in and out of oncoming traffic.

Dee Buchanan had been taking prescribed Diazepam following a head injury when she got behind the wheel of her blue Volkswagen Polo on the B9170 Oldmeldrum to Inverurie road.

However, the drugs affected the 57-year-old to the extent she was swerving in and out of oncoming traffic forcing other cars onto the grass verge, striking kerbs, driving over a roundabout, and bursting two tyres so she was driving on just the metal rims.

Buchanan had continued to drive, largely oblivious to the seriousness of the situation, until a member of the public managed managed to bring her to a stop by overtaking her and slowly stopping in front of her.

Fiscal depute Sean Ambrose told Aberdeen Sheriff Court a witness had been travelling north on the B9170 towards Oldmeldrum at 12.50pm on November 16 2019 when they spotted Buchanan’s car “start to swerve all over the road” and move onto the wrong side of the road.

Buchanan’s car swerved all over the road

The witness, who was travelling in the opposite direction to Buchanan, had to “swerve onto the grass verge in order to prevent the blue Polo colliding with her.

Mr Ambrose said: “The accused failed to stop and continued to travel south towards Inverurie, and continued to swerve all over the road and into the opposing lane.”

Buchanan then drove straight over a roundabout and struck a kerb, leaving the front and rear offside tyres flat and “significantly damaged”.

Mr Ambrose said: “The accused thereafter drove past a car garage in Oldmeldrum, however, made no attempt to stop and seek assistance.

“The accused continued to swerve into the opposing lane, travelling at various speeds, causing several other vehicles to take evasive action.

“If they had not done so it would have resulted in a collision.”

Another civilian witness then spotted “a number of vehicles on the grass verge” and formed the view they appeared they had been “forced into this position”.

Mr Ambrose said: “He then noted the accused travelling ahead of him, swerving in and out of the opposing lane and striking the kerb numerous times.

‘Shocking episode of dangerous driving’

“He also noticed the offside front and rear tyres were burst and the vehicle was being driven on the metal wheel rims.”

The witness made “numerous attempts” to get Buchanan’s attention by flashing his lights and waving at her to stop as he thought her tyres had blown out.

However, she continued to drive in the same manner as she approached Barra Berries, almost colliding with another vehicle on a bend.

Mr Ambrose went on: “The witness then overtook the accused at a safe time and slowly came to a stop in front of the accused.

“Both parties safely came to a stop. The witness left his vehicle and approached the accused’s car to speak with her.

“He noted her speech was slurred and she seemed unaware of why she had been stopped.”

He contacted the police.

Officers attended and noted Buchanan was “unsteady on her feet” and “hesitant to respond”.

‘She is remorseful’

On walking to the police vehicle she “struggled with co-ordination and required support from officers to keep her upright and prevent her falling over”.

A breath sample was negative for alcohol but “impairment was still apparent to officers”.

Buchanan told officers she was on prescribed medication, and on the way to the police station she continually dropped her belongings and made “no sense whatsoever” when speaking to the officers.

A blood sample was assessed and Mr Ambrose took the court through a list of several substances discovered, including Diazepam, the side-effects of which include drowsiness, reduced alertness and slowed reactions.

The amount discovered in Buchanan’s blood was within the range associated with normal medical use of the drug.

Buchanan, whose last name was given in court papers as Adam or Haines or Moir or Bond or Buchanan, pled guilty to two charges.

She admitted dangerous driving and driving while unfit through drugs.

Defence agent Neil McRobert said his client is self-employed and appeared with limited previous convictions. However, he accepted she did have a conviction for drink-driving from 2017.

He said: “Her position is that she was on prescribed medication, that followed a head injury in October 2019.

‘I really didn’t understand how unwell I was’

“She was in receipt of Diazepam and Temazepam.”

Mr McRobert said the other drugs found in his client’s system could be explained by the way the body converts Diazepam.

He added: “Regardless, she was clearly not fit to be driving her vehicle.

“She is remorseful.”

Sheriff William Summers told Buchanan, of New Park Steading, Kingswells: “You pled guilty to a shocking episode of dangerous driving. It’s of concern this is not a one-off. It’s not a momentary lapse. The driving was over a prolonged period of time.”

He added it was “a matter of the greatest good fortune” that nobody had been seriously injured.

He banned her from driving for four years and imposed 12 months’ supervision and 240 hours of unpaid work as a direct alternative to a custodial sentence.

Speaking outside court following the conclusion of the case, Buchanan said: “I didn’t realise how unwell I was on the prescribed drugs.

“I knew that I’d burst my tyres and I was just thinking I wanted to get to somewhere I could get new tyres.

“The place in Oldmeldrum, I did stop and have a look and it shut at 12 o’clock. It 12.50pm by then and I thought I knew somewhere that was open until 5pm.

“I really didn’t understand how unwell I was. I’d had emergency neurosurgery the month before and it was the first time that I had driven.

“All the drugs were to stop me having an epileptic fit or brain seizure, but I didn’t realise how much they’d effected me that day.”

Asked if she had a message for the member of the public that stopped her, Buchanan said: “I can only apologise. It was never my intention to harm anyone. I felt absolutely fine when I left that morning. I’m just mortified.”

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.