A FORMER North Yorkshire traffic officer who spearheaded the force’s annual drink-drive campaign was caught driving at more than three times the legal drink limit.

Graham Carroll, who had a 28-year policing career with North Yorkshire Police, had stopped at a lay-by on the A64, between York and Tadcaster, to drink a full bottle of red wine on the way home from the pub, York Magistrates Court heard.

At about 9.45pm on December 23 last year, an on-duty police inspector had spotted Carroll swerving and driving erratically and in a “dangerous” manner” in his silver Mercedes, said Kathryn Reeve, for the court service.

The police inspector had followed the 55-year-old to his home on Eastfield Close, Tadcaster, and arrested him on his driveway. The court heard how Carroll was taken to Harrogate Police Station where a blood sample was taken. Results later showed that he had 283 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80.

In an interview with The Press in 2007, Carroll spoke about the annual Christmas drink-drive campaign that he co-ordinated, and said he was tired of attending traffic accidents and telling people their loved ones were dead or seriously injured because of the “irresponsible behaviour of a few motoring idiots”.

Defence solicitor Sandra Keene told York Magistrates that Carroll “bitterly regretted” his actions. He has since been suspended from his job as a supermarket delivery driver; a job he took up after leaving the police force last year.

She told the court that Carroll, who pleaded guilty to a charge of driving while over the legal limit, had suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder since leaving North Yorkshire Police as a result of “some of the things he had seen during the course of his time in the force” and had sought medicine, hypnotherapy and counselling as a result.

“This has caused him a great deal of stress and great anxiety,” she said. “He is very stressed and has had this hanging over him for more than three months.

“It has caused him an enormous amount of upset and he bitterly regrets what he has done.”

Mrs Keene told the court that Carroll had retired from North Yorkshire Police in May last year following 28 years of service and a short period on sick leave. She said that on his departure, Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell had given him a certificate of duty, describing his services as “exemplary”.

“It is therefore a great tragedy he now appears before court on this matter,” she said.

The court heard that since the incident, Carroll had stopped drinking and was continuing to seek help from his GP for his condition. Carroll was disqualified from driving for 30 months, given a 12-month community order, a 12-month supervision order and told to pay £85 costs. He must also complete a drink-drive rehabilitation course.