Bury Doctor Gets Driving Ban

A drink driving doctor who got behind the wheel of his car while sleepwalking has been banned from driving for 12 months.

Donald Clegg, 59, from Prestwich, Bury, had asked magistrates to suspend any driving ban for "special reasons'' due to his state of "parasomnia'', in that he was not aware of what he was doing while sleepwalking.

He was almost four times over the limit when he got out of bed and into his car, still wearing his nightgown and slippers, Bury Magistrates' Court heard.

He drove for a mile while still "asleep'' before crashing into parked cars and was talking incoherently about driving to his mother's house when bystanders snapped the car key in the ignition to stop him driving away again, the court heard.

Clegg pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol and without due care and attention on December 8 last year.

But the GP put forward the "unusual'' defence that he was in a state of "auto-autonomy'' and not conscious of his actions at the time of the offence, due to his sleepwalking, and therefore should keep his licence.

He told the court the first he knew of any incident was when he woke up in a police cell.

The prosecution did not dispute Clegg was sleepwalking and the defendant's lawyer asked the court to use "special reasons'' to suspend any driving ban, which is normally automatic for drink-driving.

But magistrates said while they accepted Clegg was sleepwalking they decided not to use special powers to suspend any driving ban.

The GP was breath-tested and gave a reading of 127 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

Such a high reading normally attracts a driving ban for around three years and possibly a short jail term.

Instead Clegg was banned for the minimum 12 months and fined #650, with #300 prosecution costs and a #15 victim surcharge to pay.

Jean Hinkley, chair of the bench, told the defendant: "We take into account you had been drinking heavily, evidenced by the high reading, and driving some distance on a major road, an accident occurred and you posed a significant risk.''