A drink driver who was spotted swerving around the road in the early hours of the morning in his BMW was almost three times over legal limit.

Martin Jepson admitted he had been drinking the night before and a roadside breathalyser test recorded 97 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35.

The 59-year-old told police that he had tried to get a taxi to travel to his girlfriend’s home but decided to drive when he failed to book one.

Liz McGowan, prosecuting, said the police spotted him driving erratically between Peterlee and Wingate at about 6.10am.

She said: “It appeared as though the car was struggling to hold the correct driving position.”

A roadside breathalyser test showed he had 97mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – the legal limit is 35.

Jepson, of Noble Street, Easington, East Durham, pleaded guilty to drink driving following his arrest on February 11 this year.

Warren Ridley, mitigating, said his client ‘shunted’ cars for a living on private land but could lose his job is he was banned from driving as his employer would no longer be able to insure him.

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“He is deeply ashamed of his actions which brought him before the court,” he said. “He takes no issue with what the officer says.

“He had been drinking the night before, he got a phone call from his girlfriend and tried to get a taxi to her home but couldn’t, so foolishly decided to drive.”

David Shallow, the chairman of the magistrates’ bench, banned Jepson from driving for 23 months and ordered him to pay court costs and the victim surcharge.

He added: “It is a serious matter to drink and drive; you could have easily been involved in an accident and hurt yourself or other road users.”