Woman, 38, found drunk at the wheel of her Mercedes during Ramadan escapes driving ban
Sarah Malik, 38, failed a breath test after police found her in the driver’s seat of her stationary C180 Kompressor
A woman who was found drunk at the wheel of her Mercedes during Ramadan escaped a driving ban after claiming she was waiting to avoid her strict Muslim father because he disapproved of her drinking.
Sarah Malik, 38, failed a breath test after police found her in the driver’s seat of her stationary C180 Kompressor at midnight on April 22 in Hale Barns, Cheshire.
The qualified psychotherapist, who is a campaign coordinator for charity NESTAC which supports the BAME community in Greater Manchester and helps victims of FGM, had been taking a video call from other relatives in Australia on her mobile phone at the time.
One of the traffic officers said Malik smelled of intoxicants, her eyes were ‘watery and glazed’ and her speech slurred before a reading showed she was nine points over the alcohol limit.
But Malik claimed she had only been consuming excess alcohol at the wheel of her vehicle while waiting for her father, a local community leader in the affluent suburb, to leave their nearby £2million property to attend a 4am call to prayer at his local mosque.
She admitted she had earlier drunk two glasses of sparkling white wine at a swanky restaurant 13 miles away but claimed she was fit to drive home.
Malik said she had only parked up nearby as it was Ramadan and she did not want to bump into her father when she got home as she feared he would be ‘ashamed’.
She also claimed it was her intention to have a power nap in the vehicle and then walk to the house after he left for his prayer meeting.
At Stockport Magistrates Court Malik, now of Lymm, faced disqualification after being charged with drink driving – but she was instead given ten points on her licence after her guilty plea to being drunk in charge of a car was accepted.
Unlike driving with excess alcohol, the offence of drunk in charge does not carry a mandatory ban.
The qualified psychotherapist, who is also a campaign coordinator for charity NESTAC which helps victims of FGM and supports the BAME community, had been taking a video call from other relatives in Australia on her mobile phone at the time
Malik, who has Master’s degree in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, had been with friends in the Church Green gastro pub run by Michelin Star chef Aiden Byrne.
Prosecutor Mr Robin Lynch said: ‘She was in the company of two others who were described as drinking far more alcohol than the defendant had.
‘But in the opinion of a bar worker there, the defendant had also drunk too much alcohol and he told her she should get a taxi.
‘She said that she hadn’t drunk too much and was capable of driving but he reported her to the police. They left the pub at 11.40pm and at 12.25am the police located the vehicle with the defendant sat in the driver’s seat.’
The court heard the Mercedes was stationary with its lights on as an officer went to the passenger door and spoke to Malik who was slurring her words and smelling of alcohol.
Tests showed she had 44 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath – with the legal limit being just 35mg.
Tests showed Malik had 44 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath – with the legal limit being just 35mg
The court heard the Mercedes was stationary with its lights on as an officer went to the passenger door and spoke to Malik who was slurring her words and smelling of alcohol
In mitigation defence counsel Miss Lesley Herman said: ‘The defendant had been out with some friends and she was the designated driver.
‘She knew she was driving them home. She just had a glass of prosecco, two glasses during the meal and she believed she wasn’t over the limit.
‘It was Ramadan and her father is a community leader and very religious and doesn’t approve of her drinking. Even though she had a small amount of alcohol, she decided to wait in the car until her father went to the Mosque at 4am.
‘She arrived very, very close to her house with a view to staying there and having a sleep until her father left, so that she doesn’t make him feel ashamed of her. She has done that before.
‘She then took a video call from her family in Australia and because of the time difference, it’s a good time to speak to them. She put the keys in the ignition to lower the electric window but whilst on the phone she became upset about a matter and had a drink in the car.
‘She was crying and that is why her eyes were watery. Her intention was not to drive anywhere after that other drink at all. The officer said she was sat in the car and her eyes were watery and glazed but that is because she had been crying.
‘She has never been in trouble before and would not have driven that car while over the limit. Her reading was very low and within half an hour, it would have been under the limit. She was not going to drive anywhere for at least four hours and she would have walked home in any event so as not to disturb any of the family.
‘She has behaved responsibly but she really didn’t know that sitting in the car and having a drink was an offence. It was a minor offence and she wasn’t going to do anything wrong.’
Malik was also fined £153 and ordered to pay £119 in costs. JPs told her: ‘Please be careful next time.’