A WOMAN who was caught behind the wheel on the A82 in Dumbarton while more than five and a half times the alcohol limit has been spared jail – despite having a previous conviction for drink-driving.

Elizabeth Black was stopped by police on Stirling Road after a member of the public reported their concern to police.

A breath sample showed a reading of 123 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of blood; the legal limit in Scotland is just 22 microgrammes.

But the 41-year-old was handed a community-based sentence after her lawyer explained she had struggled to cope after suddenly being made redundant.

Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard on Friday, June 7, that police received a tip-off at 10.40am on February 2, and detected a strong smell of alcohol from Black’s vehicle after she was stopped.

Black’s solicitor, Jonathan Paul, told Sheriff William Gallacher: “The reading will cause your Lordship considerable consternation, against the background of an analogous conviction five years ago.

“She was made redundant, out of the blue, after 23 years working with the same company, and her redundancy triggered a period of drinking.

“She was staying at a friend’s house, and stupidly left in her car.

“She has addressed her alcohol issues by abstaining, and has secured employment in a fairly rigorous shift pattern.

“The previous offence involved driving the next day and not realising she was over the limit.

“She recognises the damage she could have caused to other people.”

Sheriff Gallacher told Black: “The level of alcohol here is enormous. This is a matter of the utmost gravity.

“You were in no position to control that vehicle.

“A motor car is a lethal weapon. It could cause fatal injury to you or other people. The fact you are appearing today only on a charge of drink driving is good fortune.

“Those who drive at all with an excess of alcohol face the potential of a custodial sentence.”

But the sheriff opted not to send Black to jail; instead she was ordered to do 225 hours of unpaid community work within nine months as a direct alternative to custody, and was placed under social workers’ supervision for the same length of time.

Black, of East Avenue in Plains, near Airdrie, was also banned from driving for four and a half years.

Sheriff Gallacher declined a motion from the Crown for forfeiture of the vehicle.