Driving ban for former radio presenter after admitting drink driving

Former BBC Radio 2 presenter Sarah Kennedy. Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA Archive.

Former Radio 2 presenter Sarah Kennedy has been banned from driving for 22 months and ordered to pay £525 after admitting drink driving.

The 63-year-old claimed a sneezing fit caused her to crash her Mercedes SLK into a stationary car while she was twice the alcohol limit.

Northampton Magistrates' Court heard on Tuesday that Kennedy, of Hellidon, near Daventry in Northamptonshire, was driving along the A361, near Byfield, on April 3 when she crashed into a car parked on the verge with its hazard lights on.

Vicki Walker, prosecuting, said the road was fairly straight and had no obstructions.

She said: "The occupants of the parked vehicle reported the defendant was unsteady on her feet when she got out of her vehicle."

The court heard Kennedy offered to leave her telephone number but then drove off when they told her they were going to call the police to the scene.

Ms Walker said officers attended Kennedy's address shortly afterwards and she told them she had drunk two glasses of wine since she had got home.

Sarah Colby, defending, said her client was "extremely remorseful" for what had happened and said it was totally out of character.

Ms Colby said: "My client has had a driving licence since she was 17 years old and has never had any issue like this before."

The solicitor said Kennedy had been suffering from lower back pain earlier in the day before a flight and her friend had advised her to drink two glasses of wine to "loosen up the muscles" before she boarded the plane.

Kennedy then had two more glasses of wine on the flight and had then taken a train to London.

Ms Colby said the drinks had been spaced out over a long period and her client had "never dreamed" she would be over the limit.

She said: "She decided to drive back to her home in Northants as she was missing her husband and wanted to get back home as she was worried her back would feel worse in the morning."

Ms Colby said that Kennedy, who suffers from hay fever, was driving with the windows open past a field full of rapeseed when she suffered a sneezing fit.

The solicitor said her client was "reaching for a tissue" when, "before she knew it", she had crashed into the parked car.

She said: "When she got out of the car her back was giving her pain. She was in shock, they were in shock.

"She apologised for what had happened and offered to hand over her telephone number."Ms Colby said Kennedy decided to drive off because the victim's partner had sworn at her.

The solicitor said her client had drunk three glasses of rose wine when she had got home and could have used this as an excuse for being over the limit but fully accepted that she would have been over the limit when she was driving.

Kennedy's breathalyser reading was 92 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

The legal limit is 35mcg.

Kennedy, who was given an MBE in 2005 for services to broadcasting, described herself in court as retired and able to pay a financial penalty.

Magistrates fined Kennedy £400, she must pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £40.She was disqualified from driving for 22 months.