A TAXI driver from Winsford who did her council contract school run more than three times the legal alcohol limit has avoided jail.

A police officer driving to work called 999 after spotting Lacramioara Giurgea's taxi – a white Kia Sportage – driving at 10mph down Dalefords Lane in Winsford, hitting the kerb, at 8.45am on Thursday, December 14 last year.

The officer followed the taxi to a nearby street where it pulled up outside a house.

Uniform officers soon arrived and breathalysed Giurgea at the roadside.

The 46-year-old had 130 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath, when the legal limit is just 35.

She was arrested at the roadside, and when breathalysed again at Middlewich custody suite, blew 123 micrograms.

Giurgea, of Stirling Close, was working for Ian’s Taxis at the time, and was on a contracted school run.

She had already picked up the child’s escort, who was in the car, and was about to pick up the child when she was stopped by police.

Giurgea appeared before Chester magistrates on Wednesday, January 11, where she pleaded guilty to drink-driving.

The court heard a verbal pre-sentence report from the Probation Service, which stated Giurgea has 28 years’ experience working as a taxi driver, 10 in the UK and 18 in Romania.

She’s never had an accident in that time, the report added, and has regular drug and alcohol tests as part of her school’s contract, which she’s never failed.

Giurgea told the Probation Service she usually drinks only once or twice a month when she goes out to dinner with her husband, but on the evening before the offence, she got a phone call from a relative in Romania telling her her mum had suffered a heart attack.

Encouraged by her husband, she drank alcohol ‘for the shock’, the report stated, adding: "She had no real idea how much she’d drunk."

Defending, Selina Woodward said Giurgea had already lost her job and was now unemployed, and if she was sent to prison immediately, there’s a good chance she and her husband would lose their home.

Miss Woodward said her client has no previous convictions, and ‘knowns full well the risks she posed to her passenger, the public, and herself’.

Giurgea was ‘full of remorse’ and spent two weeks in bed unable to talk after the incident, she added.  

Passing sentence, lead magistrate, Jon Sankey, said: “This offence falls into the highest category as your alcohol level was so far above the limit.

“You also had an escort from the local authority’s children’s services in the car with you at the time.

“There was no child in the car, but there would have been, had you not been stopped in time.”

Giurgea was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months.

She was also banned from driving for 29 months, with the option to reduce the ban by five months if she takes a drink driving awareness course.

She was also ordered to pay £120 costs and £154 victim surcharge.

Inspector Jason Murray, from Cheshire Police, said: “Giurgea was more than three times the limit and was in no fit state to be behind the wheel, let alone drive a child to school.

“Thankfully, as a result of the off-duty officer who reported her driving, we were able to arrest her and quickly bring her to justice – thanks to them it is highly possible that a serious collision was avoided.

“If you have any information about people who drink alcohol and then think it's acceptable to get behind the wheel, please give us a call. Your actions could save a life.”