Probation helps Lisa piece life together after drink drive sentence

Lisa* was arrested for drink driving after telling a police officer she was drunk when she was pulled over for not having her headlights on while driving at night.

The 35-year-old, from Bolton, was using alcohol to help her cope after problems with her stepchildren triggered painful memories of sexual abuse she had suffered as a child.

Lisa was sentenced to a 12-month community order and is supervised by Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company probation case manager Rachael Cunningham.

On the night when Lisa got into her car, she had finished work delivering end of life care to patients and was struggling with domestic issues which were causing her a great deal of stress.

Following the arrest Lisa became a recluse and left her job.

The mum-of-three said: “Nothing justifies that I got behind the wheel of a car when I did, but I just wanted a cuddle. I was really struggling, and I took a foolish decision.

“The impact of COVID-19 where I worked was horrific because it meant the people we were caring for couldn’t see their loved ones before they died.

“My family was also experiencing a painful domestic situation which brought back horrible memories of the abuse I’d suffered as a child.”

Lisa set off to her sister’s house at night but forgot to turn her headlights on. She was flagged by a policeman.

Lisa said: “I told him ‘I am drunk’. I think in a way I was asking for help.

“The officer was so kind, but the arrest was last straw for me and I ended up in a really bad place. When I woke-up in the police cell I just cried and cried and cried.

“However, thanks to the support I’ve received from probation, it’s helped me get the help I desperately needed.”

Lisa became depressed, lost weight, stopped going out and was put on medication by her GP to ease her chronic anxiety.

She said: “I stayed in bed, it was the lowest point of my life. I kept having flashbacks to the trauma I’d gone through.

“The turning point was my court experience. I was a criminal and thought I’d be treated like one, but everyone there was so nice.

“When I met Rachael and the probation staff, they were lovely to me. They said they’d help me and that’s what I needed to hear.”

Rachael began by completing victim awareness work with Lisa to illustrate the dangers of drink driving.

Rachael said: “I am proud of the progress Lisa has made during her order. She had acted out of character when she committed the offence but was reaching out for help and has proven very responsive to the support provided.

“Lisa has applied what she’s learned on our courses to her life in general. She’s passionate about the impact the drink driving course has had and says probation has made her think more about her life and where she wants it to go.”

Lisa will be carrying out her unpaid work order preparing food for the homeless.

Lisa added: “I felt I was worthless, Rachael helped me build myself back up again and supported me emotionally. She called me every week and made sure I was making progress. I cannot thank her enough.

“I drink less, hardly at all – and would never ever even consider driving while even having had just one. The impact alcohol has on your reactions is incredible.

“I’m now looking forward to life again and am excited about what the future holds.”

*Lisa is not the service user’s real name. We have protected her identity because she was a victim of sexual abuse.