A FORMER police officer who crashed into another vehicle while almost four times the drink-drive limit has been spared an immediate prison sentence.

Blackburn magistrates heard Emma Shaw had no recollection of her journey from the Ribchester Arms to her home in Whalley.

But her actions on the day resulted in the loss of her previously unblemished character.

Shaw, 39, of Hayhurst Close, Whalley, pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol.

She was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, made subject to comm-unity supervision for 12 months, banned from driving for 36 weeks, and ordered to pay £165 costs.

Parveen Akhtar, prosecuting, said a witness driving a gritting lorry saw Shaw drive off the pub car park and nearly collide with three vehicles.

As he followed her towards the A59, she crossed onto the wrong side of the road on several occasions, before going through a red light and colliding with a car on the main road.

“She drove off after the collision, but was traced through her registration number,” said Miss Akhtar. “Police found her locked in her car at her home address and, at first, she refused to open the door.”

Miss Akhtar said Shaw gave a roadside reading of 140, exactly four times the legal limit of 35, but her reading on the police station intoxiliser was 131.

Geoffrey Ireland, defending, said his client had gone out on November 18 with no intention of drink-driving.

She had missed meeting a friend in a pub, in Whalley, and had then driven to Ribchester.

“At that stage it was not her intention to drive home,” said Mr Ireland. “She actually has no recollection of that journey home.”

He said Shaw had been a police officer for 12 years until her resignation in 2010.

“That resignation was prompted by the death of a close friend, matrimonial problems, and the strains and pressures of the job,” said Mr Ireland. “For five-and-a-half years she was part of the public protection unit, which was extremely traumatic.”

Mr Ireland said since her resignation, Shaw had been working for a charitable organisation, but had resigned from that position because of the inevitable loss of her licence.

“She is a person who until today had an unblemished character, and she assures me this is the one and only time she has got behind the wheel in drink.”