A MAN has been banned from driving for 18 months after admitting driving under the influence.

Leigh Heighway, of Lambton Avenue in Consett, was stopped by police at 12.10pm on June 1 whilst driving along Newstead Rise, after his friend was seen throwing a package out the window, County Durham and Darlington Magistrates' Court heard yesterday.

The 36-year-old failed a roadside drug test and admitted using cocaine, but said he had not taken it for 36 hours.

A probation officer told the court that drugs appeared to be a "big issue" for Heighway since the breakdown of his marriage.

As well as the driving ban, he was given a nine month community order, and was told to undertake a six month drug rehabilitation programme and pay £85 costs and a £85 victim surcharge.