A long-distance lover who downed half a bottle of wine during a 400-mile drive to see his north-east girlfriend has been banned from the road.
Paul Harty was travelling from his home in Bolton to visit his girlfriend in Macduff on July 4 when police stopped him in Aberdeen.
The 34-year-old building site safety officer was found to be more than three times the drink-limit and admitted driving with excess alcohol at the city’s sheriff court yesterday.
Harty claimed he’d purchased a bottle of wine as a gift but after stopping at Stonehaven beach for a break he opened it himself and “had a glass”.
Despite that “stupidity”, he begged to be allowed to keep his licence, saying a ban could spell disaster for his love life and play havoc with his employment.
But the plea failed to move Sheriff Robert Vaughan who banned Harty from driving for 18 months.
Fiscal depute Rebecca Clark said: “At about 7.15pm a member of the public witnessed the accused within his car, driving erratically.”
The witness called the police, saying they had seen Harty hit the near-side kerb before veering over the white lines onto the other carriageway.
He continued driving and officers caught up with him while he was travelling in the city’s North Anderson Drive.
Harty was taken to a police station where a breath test recorded 77 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 22mcg.
Solicitor Gregor Kelly said his client had a “hitherto unblemished record” and asked for leniency.
He said: “Mr Harty works, ironically, in site safety and had been in a relationship with a lady from Macduff.
“He was travelling up from Bolton but stopped at Stonehaven and decided to have a break.
“He bought sandwiches and a bottle of wine for his girlfriend and parked up at the beach.”
But the court heard that Harty then “stupidly” decided to drink some of the wine himself. By the time he set off on his trip again, “well over half” the wine was gone.
Mr Kelly said: “He decided he was fit to drive, but he realises the error of his ways.”
The solicitor said that Harty relied on his ability to drive for a number of reasons.
“He works at sites all over Great Britain – this is going to be difficult for him,” he said.
“He’s a decent young man. He helps his mother who had a stroke and doesn’t drive.”
Mr Kelly said any disqualification could spell disaster for Harty’s love life, adding that it was “difficult keeping a relationship going” when there was hundreds of miles between them.
Sheriff Vaughan banned Harty, of Kendal Road in Bolton, was banned and also fined £350.