An accountant who tested almost four times the legal alcohol limit following a car crash has been cleared of drink driving after claiming she drank two pints of vodka to steady her nerves.
Kelsey Ridings, 26, crashed her Mercedes sports car with four children inside into another car but left the scene before police could attend the collision, after exchanging details with the other driver.
Officers traced her to her home at Mottram near Hyde, Greater Manchester, an hour later where an initial breath test showed she had 124 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.
But Ridings was cleared after Tameside magistrates heard she consumed two pints containing vodka in just 15 minutes at a friend's house to "calm herself down" before she was given a lift home.
The 26-year-old celebrated outside the Manchester court after magistrates delivered a not guilty verdict because prosecutors had failed to prove their case "beyond reasonable doubt".
Ridings' acquittal came despite magistrates suggesting her account was "often confused and misleading".
The incident took place on May 6 this year after Ridings' C250 car hit a black Peugeot 308 as she was returning home from a shop she had been considering renting as a beauty salon.
Carl Kidd, the other driver involved in the collision as he took his pregnant partner to see his parents, told the court Ridings "appeared to be intoxicated" and was "slurring" her words when he went to confront her following the crash.
He told the hearing: "She was well over on my side of the road and she was coming at speed. I steered away to avoid a head-on collision but she caught the back end of my car.
"I made sure my partner was OK then went over to confronted her the other driver. She then opened the door and there were three kids in the back and a young girl in the passenger seat, all children.
"She got out and abruptly walked over to my car. I said: 'look what you have done?' and asked for her insurance details but she offered me £,1000 to not go through the insurance."
The court heard police arrived at Ridings' home an hour after the crash. After blowing almost four times the limit she took a second test which showed she had 82mg in breath.
Ridings told the hearing she left the scene and headed to her friend Paige Azad's house because "other cars were beeping" and her children were "screaming", as she accused Mr Kidd of acting "aggressively" towards her.
She said: "I got into the car and drove off to Paige's. Everything was happening too fast and the kids were hysterical.
"At Paige's I was panicking and asked her to get me a strong drink. I just needed to calm my nerves and I stood outside her house having a glass a of vodka which more or less neat and I then necked it then had another one whilst I was getting the kids out of my car and into my friends van."
Breaking down in tears, she added: "I just feel like a bad mum drinking. I was there 15-20 minutes and it was long enough to have two drinks. I just panicked. They were incredibly strong drinks. I had not had a drink before it."
Ridings was later cleared of wrongdoing. After prosecutors questioned the verdict, magistrates responded: "We believe the Crown's case has not been proved beyond all reasonable doubt. We are not prepared to go into it anymore."
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