A MAN driving a lorry gave an initial roadside breathalyser reading nearly seven times the legal limit.

Blackburn magistrates heard the officer was "shocked" by the level of the reading provided by Gavin Ellidge.

When he was breathalysed at the police station one and a half hours later his reading was nearly three times the legal limit.

Ellidge, 47, of Hyacinth Close, Haslingden, pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol.

He was made subject to a community order for 12 months with 120 hours unpaid work. He was banned for 26 months and ordered to pay £85 costs and £114 victim surcharge.

Nicola Mills, prosecuting, said the Ford Lorry being driven by Ellidge was reported to police by several people because of the erratic way in which it was being driven.

An officer pulled Ellidge over in a lay-by on the Grane Road.

"The defendant got out of his vehicle and the officer immediately formed the view he was drunk," said Miss Mills.

"He admitted he had been drinking but said he wasn't drunk. The initial reading at the roadside was 238, nearly seven times the legal limit of 35 and that came as quite a shock to the officer."

Ellidge told police he had been an alcoholic for 12 years and drank on a daily basis.

The court heard he was taking steps the court proceedings to try and deal with his alcoholism.

He said he was on his way to a job in Liverpool, driving a works vehicle, when he was told the job was cancelled. He pulled over at a pub and had some drinks.

Lucy Straker, campaigns manager at Brake, the road safety charity said: "Every year, 188 people are killed and more than 1250 people seriously injured in drink-drive related crashes in England and Wales.

"England and Wales have the highest drink-drive limits in Europe. These are unacceptable facts. The current drink-driving limit is far too high and gives a false impression that it is safe to have a drink and drive. It isn't. A change is needed in the law to drive a change in behaviour.”