A DRINK driver who wrote off three cars while at least three times over the alcohol limit has been given a chance to avoid a prison sentence.

Jamie Spence took his girlfriend’s car without her permission, after he had drunk heavily through the day, on December 18, last year.

Durham Crown Court was told within 15 minutes he ploughed the Audi A4 into two parked cars in Shildon.

Chris Wood, prosecuting, said all three cars were written off, with the bill for the damage put at about £48,000.

Dr Wood told the court angry residents came out to confront Spence, who left the scene on foot to return home.

But he rang one of his two passengers to tell them where he was and she, in turn, told police who went to the address to arrest him.

He claimed to have drunk three half-pints of cider after the accident and gave a breath reading containing 138 micrograms of alcohol.

Dr Wood said reducing the reading to account for those drinks, the adjusted figure was still 105mg, compared to the legal limit of 35mg.

Spence, 35, of Grassholme Terrace, Newton Aycliffe, admitted aggravated vehicle taking, drink driving and no insurance.

Mark Styles, mitigating, told the court: “He’s the first to admit the error of his ways. He’s ashamed.

“He has struggled with an alcohol problem for some time but has taken steps to overcome it.”

Mr Styles said Spence has sought help to address his drinking and has found work.

Judge Christopher Prince agreed to defer sentence for six months, on condition Spence continues to seek help to overcome his alcoholism, keeps out of trouble and saves £300 to pay compensation, or risk a six-month prison sentence.