Alcohol abuse campaigner caught twice over limit

Campaign Against Drink Driving had never heard of a woman having such a high reading.Picture: PA
Campaign Against Drink Driving had never heard of a woman having such a high reading.Picture: PA
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A FORMER alcohol misuse campaigner who was found drunk behind the wheel of her car twice in the space of three weeks was spared a jail term yesterday.

Eileen McArthur, a former senior planning officer for Focus on Alcohol Angus, was caught driving while almost five times the legal limit.

And just three weeks later, she smashed her car in another drink-fuelled incident.

McArthur – who now runs an event management firm – could have faced a jail term over the incidents, but was instead handed a ten-year driving ban and community sentences.

A sheriff said she was a “danger to the public” and should have had an “acute awareness” of the risk, given her previous job.

Fiscal depute Jim Eodonable told Forfar Sheriff Court that she had twice been reported to police by members of the public because of how drunk she was.

He said: “In the first incident, she was seen getting into her car by a member of the public who was concerned for her sobriety.

“Police were contacted and attended to stop her. The reading was then taken and she presented no difficulties to officers.

“In the second incident, a member of the public heard a crash of a car at 10:45pm.

“The witness was troubled as the accused appeared to be intoxicated and police were called. She appeared apologetic and co-operated.”

McArthur, 47, pleaded guilty to driving in Forfar and on other roads between Forfar and her home in Glamis on 19 August last year with an alcohol count of 171 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

She also admitted driving or attempting to drive in Glamis on 9 September last year while unfit through drink or drugs.

Bob Bruce, defending, said: “Her marriage broke down and she was using alcohol as a crutch. Her life has been ruined by this and she may never find paid employment again.”

Sheriff Kevin Veal banned her from driving for ten years, imposed an 18-month community payback order and ordered her to wear an electronic tag, restricting her to her home address from 9pm to 7am for six months.

He said: “I recognise that her personal life has been in disarray since the break-up of her marriage and she has found it difficult.

“That said, other people have had to face domestic tragedies in their personal lives and relationships, but they do not then become a danger to the wider community by going behind the wheel of a car after drinking to excess.

“Indeed, as a former employee of the alcohol awareness project in Angus, she perhaps should have been in a better position than most people to have an acute awareness of the risk to members of the public and the consequences of driving with excess alcohol.”

Drink-driving campaigners said they had “never heard of a woman having such a high drink-drive reading”.

McArthur spent several years as senior planning officer for Angus Council’s Focus on Alcohol scheme.

She was responsible for spearheading anti-drink abuse initiatives as well as highlighting Angus-based projects at national level at events and conferences.

Carole Whittingham, of the Campaign Against Drink Driving, said: “I have heard of five-and-a-half times the limit but I’ve certainly never heard of such a level for a female driver.

“She must have consumed a considerable amount of alcohol to register that.

“She could have killed somebody so easily and once you have done that, your life and so many other lives are changed forever.”