WINE turned a mild-mannered managing director who deplored drink-drivers into an “aggressive” motorist, careering on to kerbs and tailgating other road users.
The effects of Mark Charles Barlow’s dramatic transformation were witnessed by police officers and led to him being stopped, breathalysed and arrested.
Ironically, Reading magistrates heard on Thursday, January 26, the 55-year-old had let it be known he held strong views about drinking and driving and had always taken a dim view of those who do it.
Sarah McKay, prosecuting, conceded Mr Barlow, of Dewe Lane, Burghfield, had never before been in trouble with the law, but said: “Officers in a marked police car spotted a blue Range Rover being driven at speed in what they describe as an aggressive manner.
“It was accelerating hard and getting close to the vehicle in front at a roundabout before driving through an amber light and pulling away at 45mph.”
She added: “The vehicle was partially mounting the kerb and drove through a bus lane before it was pulled over by the officers.”
Tests then showed 48mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath in Mr Barlow’s system.
The legal limit is 35mcg.
Peter Harris, defending, said his client was managing director at a company that provided training courses and events for all those involved in the property business.
He added: “He holds strong views about drink-driving and deprecates those who engage in it.”
But on the day in question, the court heard, father-of-two Mr Barlow attended a business meeting which also involved wine-tasting and, when he returned to Reading railway station, he made the “foolish” decision to drive the rest of the way home.
Mr Harris went on: “He felt that he was fit to drive when, manifestly, he wasn’t.
“He accepts he was driving, perhaps, forcefully.
“The inevitable ban is going to be an utter nightmare for him, professionally and socially, as he lives out in the sticks.”
Presiding magistrate Geoffrey Beard said the offence was aggravated by the fact that “there was some aggressive driving there”.
He told Mr Barlow: “This was a dreadful mistake on your part and I’m afraid it’s going to cost you dearly.”
Mr Barlow was fined £1,200. In addition he was ordered to pay £85 costs plus a statutory victim services surcharge of £120.
Finally, he was banned from driving for 15 months.