Drink-driving nurse crashed car while four times the legal limit

Drink-driving district nurse, 38, is banned from road for three years after crashing her car into wall just yards from her home while four times the legal limit

  • District nurse Heidi Smith smashed her grey Ford into a brick wall near her home
  • She then tried to drive away from the scene in Kingscote, Bristol last December 
  • Alcohol level was ‘almost beyond the scale,’ of sentencing guidelines, judge says
  • Mother-of-two admitted drink driving and must perform 300 hours unpaid work
  • She was also banned from driving for three years and ordered to pay £200  

A drink-driving district nurse has been banned from the road for three years after crashing her car into a wall near her home while four times over the legal alcohol limit.

Heidi Smith, 38, was blocking the road near her home in Kingscote, Bristol, when a driver approached her window and noticed she was slurring her words and smelled of alcohol.

The mother-of-two then reversed her car into a wall, before trying to drive away, once again blocking the road.

Police were called and later discovered she had 142mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mcg.

Deputy District Judge Simon Morgan said Smith risked jail as her alcohol level was ‘almost beyond the scale’ of sentencing guidelines provided to the court.

Instead she was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work, given a three year driving ban and told to pay £200 to the courts, after she pleaded guilty to drink driving. 

District nurse Heidi Smith’s job hangs in the balance after she smashed her car into a brick wall near her home in Kingscote, Bristol, while more than four times over the legal drink-driving limit

Bristol Magistrates’ Court heard how the future of Smith’s job at Yate’s district nursing team was uncertain following the crash last December. 

She has been outsourced to a private firm but could be retrained to administer coronavirus vaccines. 

Deputy District Judge Simon Morgan said: ‘The defendant was blocking the road and not moving despite a horn being used to persuade her to do so.’

Another driver approached Smith’s car window and smelled alcohol on her breath, noticing her speech was slurred.

Smith reversed her vehicle and hit a wall, before attempting to drive away. Her Ford again blocked the road.

‘A witness managed to turn off the defendant’s engine before police arrived,’ said Judge Morgan. ‘Officers noticed her glazed eyes.’

The 2ft 6ins brick wall had collapsed from the impact. After blowing what the judge described as a ‘very high level indeed’ on the breathalyser, Smith apologised during a ‘remorseful’ police interview. 

Dan Woodman, defending said the crash had been a ‘wake-up call’ for the married mother-of-two, whose husband was sat in the public gallery of the court.

He added: ‘It has brought everything sharply into focus.

‘She had not had a break since the pandemic, and she had been expected to do 12-hour shifts, which she found very difficult.

‘Ms Smith started having a drink of an evening, and on this particular day she’d had an awful day at work.’

Smith stopped to buy alcohol on the way home and started drinking it in the car. The crash made her realise she had a problem, Mr Woodman added.

‘Straight away since her arrest she has accessed help from the GP,’ he said.

‘She has been abstinent save for one incident since this incident. She is absolutely mortified to be here, as you can imagine.

‘Her employer will speak to her in the coming week once the outcome of today is known.

Smith pleaded guilty to drink driving at Bristol Magistrates Court. She has been banned from driving for three years and will be meeting with her bosses in the next week to discuss her role 

‘There’s been talk of possibly retraining her to dish out the Covid jabs. She’s optimistic but it’s not a certainty she’ll retain her employment.’ 

Judge Morgan signalled his intention to hand Smith a suspended sentence, but then appeared to change his mind.

The judge said: ‘I’m afraid I think this does pass the custody threshold and I am bound, by virtue of her efforts to avoid being stopped driving away, to impose a suspended sentence, but I will give maximum credit for the guilty plea.’ 

Judge Morgan added: ‘I’ve taken the view she is a woman who has a lot to offer the community.

‘Although the custody threshold has been passed, given the mitigating factors I can reduce this to a high community order, without any suspended sentence.’

The judge sentenced Smith to 300 hours of unpaid work, telling her this was a ‘very very high reading, almost beyond the scale of our guidelines’. 

Guidelines set out by the Sentencing Council give guidance for readings of 120 to 150mcg ‘and above’ of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

Smith gave a reading of 142mcg.  

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