A mother who tried to drive her eight-year-old daughter home from school while almost four times the drink-drive limit has walked free from court.
Fiona Marie Smith (31) was given a three-month suspended jail sentence yesterday and banned from the roads for three years.
Wolverhampton magistrates said she had placed herself, her child and others at risk and a custodial sentence was warranted, but they had decided to suspend it after hearing about Smith's personal circumstances.
The court heard that Smith, of Langley Road, Merry Hill, Wolverhampton, was arrested on February 21 this year after police were summoned to St Michael's Catholic Primary School at about 4.35pm.
Jackie Goodman, prosecuting, said the defendant had gone to collect her daughter from an after-school club.
"She was observed by a number of people, including the caretaker, to be very unsteady on her feet and smelling of alcohol."
Miss Goodman said Smith was seen to get into the driver's seat and her daughter into the front passenger seat.
The court was told that Smith had turned on the engine and put the car into reverse but was prevented from driving away by the caretaker, who stood behind her Ford Escort.
Other members of staff, including the deputy head teacher, took Smith into the school and gave her a cup of coffee before an off-duty police officer became aware of the situation and informed colleagues.
Smith was taken to a police station and a breath test produced a reading of 134 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, just under four times the legal limit of 35 micrograms.
"Clearly, she was about to drive her daughter home from school in the car," Miss Goodman said.
David Dorrance, defending, said his client was a woman of good character.
Mr Dorrance said Smith had suffered from severe alcohol problems since her divorce in 2002 and was also the sole carer for her mother and father, who suffer from renal failure and emphysema respectively.
Smith, who was also ordered to pay £70 in costs, admitted being in charge of a motor vehicle while over the limit.
Her three-month sentence will be suspended for 12 months.
Sentencing her, chairman of the bench Angela Spence told Smith: "When the court adjourned last time they were considering a custodial sentence.
"We have considered the pre-sentence report in some detail and at length and we still feel that the offence is so serious that it warrants a term of custody.
"However we are prepared to suspend the sentence."
The magistrate added: "You were approximately four times the legal limit and drove without considering the consequences, the time of day and the location, outside a busy school."