A DRINK-driver was warned he may have faced a prison sentence after being found to be almost four times over the limit when he crashed into a tree in his company car.

But Martin Greaves, 53, of Nidderdale Avenue, Hetton le Hole, escaped with a three-year ban instead after admitting a drink-driving charge before magistrates in Newton Aycliffe this week.

Graves was said to have 135mg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath when tested by police. The legal limit is 35mg in 100 ml of breath.

Police were called after he crashed into a tree on Moorsley Road, near Pittington, County Durham, following a row with his partner.

He had drunk three bottles of wine the night before, the court heard.

He was on his own and there was no damage to the car, but he had lost his well-paid job at Schneider Electrics because it was the company car he crashed.

He was now living off his savings while he looks for another job and losing his licence would make it much harder to look after his elderly mother, his solicitor Amreek Jandoo told magistrates.

"The only person who suffered any injuries was Mr Greaves himself," he said.

Magistrates handed Greaves a 12-month community order and a three-year driving ban.

He was also ordered to pay £85 court costs and an £85 victim surcharge.