A 20-YEAR-OLD man who drove home after drinking three quarters of a bottle of brandy was reported to the police by friends who had tried desperately to stop him getting in his car.

Blackburn magistrates heard the friends had booked a taxi for Benjamin Ashton, took his car keys out of the ignition to stop him driving off and physically put him in the cab when it turned up.

But he asked for his keys back because he needed his house keys and then got back in his car and drove off.

The police were heading towards his home address when they received a report of a car running into a parked van at the same address and it turned out to be Ashton.

He later revealed that he could remember the crash and waking up in a police cell and nothing else.

Ashton, of The Crescent, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol. He was ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work and pay £85 costs and £85 victim surcharge. He was banned from driving for 28 months.

The chairman of the magistrates said Ashton had come close to a custodial sentence.

"Your friends tried to stop you from driving off and you took steps to get the keys back," said the chairman of the bench. "The consequences of your actions could have been much more serious."

Tracey Yates, prosecuting, said Ashton turned up at his girlfriend's house where a few friends were having a social drink. He brought a bottle of Cognac and they started playing a drinking game which resulted him drinking a lot in a short time.

"He became argumentative and was told to leave," said Miss Yates. "A taxi was called for him but he said he was going to drive. He was stumbling towards the car and was unable to get his key in the door because of his drunkenness."

Mrs Yates said the defendant's girlfriend and other members of the group tried to reason with him and tried to get the keys out of the ignition. He shouted that if he could get the car in gear he would drive away.

"Eventually someone reached in from the passenger side and removed the keys," said Mrs Yates.

Zabair Afzal, defending, said Ashton could remember driving over to his girlfriend's house and having a few drinks.

"The next thing he remembers is having a crash and then waking up in the police station," said Mr Afzal. "Everything else the prosecution has outlined is a complete blur to him. When he heard what had gone on he was horrified. He can't believe the way he has behaved on this night."