Driver drank to pass the time after becoming stranded in the snow



A snow-stricken driver who drank alcohol while he waited for help was reported to police by the good Samaritan who offered to tow him.

Patrick Walsh was heading for his partner’s dad’s 60th birthday party when his van became stranded in a layby on the A832, near Kinlochewe.

The 40-year-old decided to crack open alcohol and drank it to pass the time as he waited for assistance.

After a two-hour wait, a trucker stopped and offered to tow Walsh, which he accepted.

But the good Samaritan then realised that the man was actually intoxicated and called the police.

‘Unsteady on his feet’

Walsh appeared at Inverness Sheriff Court[1] where he admitted a single charge of being drunk in charge of a vehicle.

Fiscal depute Emily Hood said the lorry driver was coming from Kinlochewe at around 7pm on December 9 last year.

As he came over a hill, he spotted Walsh dressed in high-visibility clothing, appearing to try to dig his van out of the snow.

She said: “The accused was unsteady on his feet”.

The other driver initially offered to tow Walsh, who said he had stopped in the layby and couldn’t get his van going.

But after smelling alcohol on his breath, the lorry driver instead contacted police.

They attended the scene and witnessed the accused “to be smelling of alcohol and unsteady on his feet”.

Walsh, who was cautioned and charged, told officers: “I was in charge of it, I suppose. The vehicle was parked”.

Solicitor Natalie Paterson, defending Walsh, told the court that her client had been driving to a family celebration when he “came into difficulty and parked at the locus”.

The driver called for help, but during the two-hour wait, he decided to start drinking.

She told the court he had not initially expected to drive but conceded that it appeared he had accepted the offer of help from the lorry driver, leading to his guilty plea to the charge.

‘Not a very wise thing to do’

Sheriff Eilidh MacDonald told Walsh, of Belvidere Avenue, Glasgow: “If you were ever in any doubt about the wisdom of drinking alcohol whilst being in charge of a vehicle, you should know now that that was not a very wise thing to do”.

She fined him £670 and gave his driving licence 10 penalty points.

When combined with Walsh’s three existing points, under ‘totting up’ rules, it led to a six-month disqualification from driving.

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