A DRUNKEN mother who drove 35 miles with her young children in the car has escaped an immediate prison sentence.

But Blackburn magistrates warned Janet Cunningham that any breach of the suspended sentence they imposed would result in custody.


“This was a very serious offence,” said the chairman. “You exposed yourself, your children and other road users to serious risk of harm.”

Janet Cunningham, 41, of East Crescent, Accrington, pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol and dangerous driving.

She was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison suspended for two years, made subject to community supervision for two years with a requirement she completes the drink impaired drivers programme, banned from driving for four years, with a condition she completes an extended re-test, and ordered to pay £85 costs and £80 victim surcharge.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said a witness was leaving the M6 at the Tickled Trout junction when the car in front failed to set off when the lights turned to green. He spoke to the driver who said she had run out of petrol but then drove off towards Blackburn. He noticed there were two young children in the back of the car.

The witness followed Cunningham's vehicle and saw it veer across the road. She badly misjudged a bend and nearly caused an accident with another car.

The witness dialled 999 on his car phone before following Cunningham on to a garage forecourt.

“He approached her car and could immediately smell alcohol,” said Miss Allan. “He took her keys to make sure she could not drive off.”

A police officer saw the children, aged two and seven, were not retrained and there was no car seat for the younger one.

Cunningham gave a roadside breath sample of 109 but at the police station it was 89 against the legal limit of 35.

She said to police: “That's better than 109 – could have killed someone.” The court heard Cunningham was convicted of drink-driving in 2011.

Peter King, defending, said his client did not dispute the facts and accepted the seriousness of the offences.

He said she was seeking to address her issues with alcohol.

“She has engaged with Inspire and has the support of her husband, family and friends,” said Mr King. “In the cold light of day she is aghast at the risk she put her children and other members of the public in.”