A MAN who was found slumped in the driver’s seat of his car in Ilminster while over the drink drive limit has escaped a driving ban after a court heard he had never intended to drive.

Michael James Riches told Somerset Magistrates that he was living in his car some of the time after becoming depressed over personal issues.

But although he had the engine running he said he only had the car turned on to keep warm and would never have drunk and drove.

The 38-year-old defendant, living care/of an address in Winterhay Lane, Ilminster, appeared in the dock at Yeovil.

He pleaded guilty to being in charge of a Saab vehicle in Ilminster after consuming excess alcohol on October 2.

Prosecutor Emma Lenanton said that the police were on duty just after 11pm when they were directed to Winterhay Lane in Ilminster following reports that a male was slumped over the wheel of a vehicle.

“When they arrived they found a red Saab parked on the corner of the junction with the metal works, the engine was running and music was coming from inside,” she said.

“The defendant was sat in the driver’s seat and when he was asked to get out he stumbled and leant against the car to steady himself.

“The officer could smell alcohol on his breath and a roadside breath test was conducted which Riches failed.”

He was arrested for being in charge of a vehicle and taken to Bridgwater police station where a further test was carried out which produced a result of 45mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mcg of alcohol.

Appearing unrepresented, Riches told the court that he had set up his own home improvement business and his car had become his home for the last four or five months.

“I’m living in it and sleeping in it and am not coping very well at the moment ,” he said.

“I would never drive while over the limit and I just had the engine running to keep warm and I am now on medication and am in touch with the mental health team.”

The magistrates decided not to disqualify Riches from driving but instead endorsed his licence with 10 penalty points.

They also fined him £65 with £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge and warned him that one further motoring offence would lead to him becoming a totter with an automatic six month driving ban.