An East Lancashire footballer has been fined more than £3,000 and banned from driving for 12 months after being caught over the legal alcohol limit.

Dale Stephens, 32, who plays for Premier League side Burnley FC, appeared at Stockport Magistrates' Court on Monday charged with driving a vehicle with alcohol above the legal limit. 

The court heard that Stephens, of Nether Alderley in Cheshire, was stopped by police just before midnight on March 14 on Congleton Road in Alderley Edge.

Officers spoke to Stephens, who was driving a Range Rover car, and immediately smelt alcohol on him and his eyes looked slightly glazed.

The police officer asked him if he’d been drinking and he said he’d “had a pint”.

He was then asked to do a roadside breath test and was found to be over the limit, was cautioned and taken to Middlewich police station.

A breath test found Stephens had 59 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath, with the legal drink drive limit being 35mcg.

He pleaded guilty to the offence and was fined a total of £3,334 and ordered to pay costs to the Crown Prosecution Service of £85 and a surcharge to fund victim services of £190, which is to be paid in full by May 2.

He was also banned from driving for 12 months, although the disqualification period can be reduced by three months if by November 11 he satisfactorily completes a driving course approved by the Secretary of State.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Simon McDonnell said: “Dale Stephens is a Premier League footballer and is no doubt looked up to by many football fans and could be considered a role model.

“Unfortunately, on the night of March 14, he chose to get behind the wheel of a car after he had been drinking more than he is legally allowed to and drive.

“The fact that there were not more serious consequences from his actions is sheer luck. He could have injured or killed someone. He also has a passenger in the car at the time.

"Drinking, even to the legal limit, impairs the driver’s ability to perform and react and is inadvisable.

"To get behind the wheel of a powerful car when you have drunk more than the legal limit is reckless, irresponsible, and dangerous.

“Mr Stephens may have a glamorous job, but no-one is above the law and he is now facing the consequences of what he chose to do on that night.”

Stephens has made nine league appearance for the Clarets since signing at Turf Moor in 2020.

Born in Bolton, the central midfielder began his career at Bury in League Two, before loan spells in the National League at Droylsden and Hyde United.

From there he signed for Oldham Athletic, making 60 appearances in three seasons, with stints at Rochdale and Southampton on loan.

He then signed for Charlton Athletic where after three years he moved to Brighton and Hove Albion where he spent eight seasons and was part of their side which won promotion to the Premier League.

After more than 200 appearances for the Seagulls, he signed for Burnley in September 2020.

In a statement, Burnley FC said: "Burnley Football Club are aware of a police incident involving one of our players, Dale Stephens.

"As a football club we uphold strong values and hold all our players and staff to the highest standards.

"As such, we are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness as legal proceedings are undertaken.

"As a club, we strongly disapprove of the actions that resulted in such an incident and therefore disciplinary procedures will also be carried out internally.

"Burnley Football Club make no further comment."