A DRUG-DRIVER has been banned from the road after admitting he smoked cannabis before climbing behind the wheel.

Stephen Costello, 39, arrived in a vehicle to his home on Upper Church Street, in Spennymoor, where police were visiting on an unrelated matter. Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court on Monday heard officers conducted a search of his property and found cannabis.

Mike Wallbank, prosecuting, said the defendant was asked if he had smoked the drug and he said ‘yes’ during the incident on June 18 this year.

The defendant provided a positive roadside breath test and a blood sample taken at the police station confirmed he had 4.7 microgrammes of cannabis per litre - more than twice the limit of 2mg.

Mike Clarke, mitigating, said Costello fully cooperated with police and, following an initial not guilty plea, pleaded guilty on his advice.

He added his client lived with his father and did not claim benefits or work.

The court heard Costello had 39 previous convictions including a drink-driving offence dating back to 2006.

Judge Timothy Capstick fined him £170 and disqualified from driving for 12 months.

He must also pay £200 prosecution costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

Judge Capstick said: “You must not get behind the wheel of a car for 12 months or you understand the consequences.”