AN afternoon drinking with friends led to a Chard woman receiving a 22 month driving ban after she was found nearly two and a half times over the limit following an accident.

A resident living in Pitch Lane in Chard heard a loud bang outside at 9.30pm and found a car which had crashed into a signpost and was lying partially in a ditch.

When she spoke to the driver, Dawn Cheryl Zeelst, she could smell alcohol and the police were informed.

When officers arrived the defendant had left the scene but she was found at a friend’s address nearby and then failed a breath test.

The 58-year-old defendant, of Otterford, pleaded guilty to driving a BMW at Chard on October 28 when she appeared before Somerset Magistrates at Yeovil.

Prosecutor Emma Lenanton said that the witness was at home and heard a loud bang outside and when she went out she found a vehicle that had crashed into a signpost and landed partially in a ditch.

“A female was sat in the driver’s seat and she could smell alcohol when she spoke to her and Zeelst then said she had been at the pub,” she said.

“The witness went back inside to call the police while her husband remained outside with the defendant, but when she got back outside Zeelst had left and headed off on foot in the direction of the village hall.”

Officers attended shortly after 10pm and found Zeelst at a nearby house and she was arrested after failing a roadside breath test.

Once at the police station she did a further test which produced a reading of 88mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, the legal limit being 35mcg of alcohol.

Defending solicitor James Mumford said that it was regretful that his client was before the court after spending an afternoon with friends including a trip to the pub.

“She believed at the time that she had had a modest amount to drink and thought she was fit to drive,” he said.

“She could not exactly recollect the reason for the accident as she had a bang on the head, but believes she swerved to avoid something and the car ended up in a hedge.”

He said that Zeelst did not deliberately leave the scene of the accident. A friend had been following in her car and suggested she went to another friend’s house.

“Leaving the scene was not an attempt to thwart the investigation, she only did it because of the state she was in a the time,” he said.

He said she was particularly concerned about a disqualification as she lived “In the middle of nowhere” on the Blackdown Hills.

She also worked as an events manager for a company, organising trade shows on both a national and global scale, and also tried to visit her father as often as possible as he was suffering from dementia.

The magistrates told Zeelst her alcohol reading was very high and alongside the disqualification fined her £678 with a £67 victim surcharge and £85 costs.