A drunk teen who crashed her car on a drunken night out tried to switch seats with her passenger in an attempt to avoid blame, a court heard.
Molly Pickering lost control of her Ford Fiesta and hit a fence while driving a friend home after a night of drinking wine in a pub.
Minutes after the 2 a.m. collision, the 18-year-old was spotted getting into the front seat of the wrecked vehicle, a court heard.
Initially, police arrested both Pickering and her female passenger over the accident, but the teenager was identified as the driver. She then refused to provide a breath sample when asked – wondering why it was necessary – and spent the night in the cells.
Pickering, an apprentice painter and decorator from Stalybridge in Greater Manchester, was under ‘peer pressure’ from her friends to drive home after a night out. She has since cut off contact with the group, blaming her actions on “immaturity” and mental health problems.
Molly Pickering, 18, crashed her Ford Fiesta after a drunken night out with friends at a pub. She was then seen trying to switch seats with her passenger to avoid being blamed for the crash
Pickering, an apprentice painter and decorator from Stalybridge in Greater Manchester, was under ‘peer pressure’ from her friends to drive home after a night out. She is pictured outside Tameside Magistrates’ Court
At Tameside Magistrates’ Court in Ashton-under-Lyne, Pickering admitted that she had not provided a breath sample and was banned from driving for 20 months. She was also ordered to do 60 hours of unpaid work.
Prosecutor Gareth Hughes said on Thursday: ‘It was around 2am on January 21 and police officers on patrol encountered a stationary ambulance with emergency equipment activated.
They stopped and checked the situation and were told by paramedics that they had seen the vehicle crash into a metal fence. After speaking to the two females in the vehicle, the paramedics told them they saw the females switch seats after they arrived.
“At that point, both women were arrested. Miss Pickering was in the passenger seat when police arrived, but there was information that they had switched seats. They arrested her on suspicion of operating a vehicle while incapacitated by drink or drugs.
“At the police station, the breath test procedure began, but the defendant did not provide a breath sample for analysis. She was warned that failing to do so would put her at risk of prosecution, but she still did not provide. She was given ample opportunity, but she questioned the reasons for giving a sample.
“In the end it was a willful refusal. The procedure has been explained to her more than once, but she gives no example. It was an intentional or intentional refusal.”
A probation report drawn up on Pickering claimed that she had driven to the pub with the intention of leaving her car there until morning.
“Unfortunately, because of the alcohol consumption, she made the wrong decision to drive. It was partly a bad decision, there was also some peer pressure from people she drank with who were much older than her. But she appreciates it was her decision to drive,” the probation report concluded.
Pickering says she broke away from her former friendship group after the crash. A probation report said there had been “some peer pressure from people she drank with who were much older than she was,” which led to her getting into her car and driving it while intoxicated
“Within ten minutes of driving, she oversteered a corner and then hit the metal gate. When she went to the police station, she refused. She said she was drunk and acted stupid, on reflection because she was drunk.
She regrets all her actions. This is her first recorded offense and she is in the process of selling her car. She is aware that she could have collided with another road user or a pedestrian and could have caused serious injury, if not death.
“She wishes she had stayed home or called a friend or her parents to pick her up. She has not had any contact with the social group. She feels that they have different views. She wants to concentrate on her internship.’
The report added: ‘Usually she doesn’t drink that much and doesn’t see alcohol as a problem. She does say she has had issues with her mental health. She feels it is now time to put her life in order. She doesn’t want to go out and get drunk and act like that.’
Pickering was described as having a low risk of recidivism by probation services.
They suggested doing unpaid work at a thrift store “instead of being placed in a place where there may be more sophisticated offenders.”
Pickering’s lawyer David Caplin said: ‘She appears to be a conscientious and hard-working person. She has completed two years of internship and she has one more year to go. She is looking forward to qualifying in that profession.
Pickering admitted that he did not provide a breath sample and was banned from driving for 20 months. She was also ordered to do 60 hours of unpaid work. She is seen leaving the court
“She has been candid with her employer, which is very refreshing to hear. She has a good character. There are no previous convictions. She certainly has remorse, as was also clear from the conversation with the probation service.
“She has dropped those friends and acquaintances that she thinks could lead her astray. I understand that little damage was done and no injuries were reported. She bumped into some street furniture. I don’t think there was a claim for damages.
‘Ironically, the passenger was much older than her, the defendant is only 18. She was among the group that encouraged her to drive. It’s pretty clear from any analysis that my client won’t be blacking out the door of the court anymore.’
Pickering was also ordered to pay £199 costs and given the chance to have her driving ban reduced by a quarter if she completes a drunk driving awareness course.
JP Dennis Hilton said: ‘We recognize that you are 18 and prone to making hasty decisions. It doesn’t excuse anything, but we do notice it. A thrift store is a pleasant environment so it could be much worse. Hopefully we won’t see you again.’