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Woman suspected of drink driving spat out coins before police could get breath sample

She also claimed she was eating a sweet which meant that the test would have to be delayed for 20 minutes

Drink driving Craigavon Court

A Portadown woman who avoided giving police a sample of her breath after being suspected of drink driving has been disqualified for 15 months.

The 57-year-old’s barrister told the court that given the lower readings obtained it was likely the defendant would have “been very close to the limit, if not below it”.

Maria Campbell, of Sugar Island Road, pleaded guilty to failing to provide a specimen of breath in connection to suspected drink driving at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

It was heard that on February 16, at around 7.30pm, police were conducting a traffic control point after a road traffic collision at the junction of Deans Road and Sugar Island Road.

As the defendant’s Volkswagen Golf approached the checkpoint it stopped 30-metres short of the police despite being signalled to move by cones and torches.

Officers then walked towards the vehicle and it began to approach them.

It was signalled to stop and upon speaking to Campbell police observed an empty bottle of Cactus Jack’s in the pocket behind the passenger seat.

A preliminary breath test was carried out which gave a lower reading of 44mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

The defendant was arrested and cautioned.

Whilst in custody, police attempted to get an evidential sample from Campbell.

First, she claimed she was eating a sweet. This meant that the test would have to be delayed for 20 minutes.

Then, the defendant requested to go to the bathroom where a female officer observed her spit out a one and two-pence-piece.

Four cycles of the breath test were conducted all of which failed to provide a reading despite Campbell being given instructions.

The defendant told police that she suffered from asthma but this was not seen as a reason for no result.

Campbell later claimed she had an asthma attack but after being attended to by a forensic medical officer she was deemed fit.

Defence barrister David McKeown stated: “She has a long history of asthma, ironically the breath record if produced would have been a low reading, at one stage it was at 31mg.

“Ms Campbell received some bad news that day and what is not outlined is that the FMO (forensic medical officer) did have concerns about her health.”

He added: “It is not usually the case but if she had have produced a sample it would have been very close to the limit, if not below it.”

Campbell was disqualified from driving for 15 months and ordered to pay a fine of £350, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 12 weeks.

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