Rio Beardmore intended his mini VW camper van to be an eye-catching way to raise money for charity.
- But when he took the vehicle for a spin one Friday night, he attracted attention from the police instead.
The 43-year-old attempted to drive the van, which has a top speed of 6mph, the half mile to his home from a local pub.
But after a few drinks – two pints of lager and six shots of spirits – the sight of him at the wheel did not go down well with officers.
Mr Beardmore was stopped, breathalysed and found to be nearly three times over the drink-driving limit.
Mr Beardmore said: ‘I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong or breaking any rules by driving it. When the police pulled me in I thought they were joking. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
‘I admit I’d had a few drinks before driving it home but it wasn’t as if I was rolling drunk or anything.
- I really didn’t think it would be a problem as the camper van doesn’t need road tax or anything like that. It’s a toy car as far as I’m concerned. I found the sentence rather harsh.’
- The self-employed locksmith from Stoke-on-Trent said he was found to have 92 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.
The blue and white van, which took seven months to build, was originally made for Mr Beardmore’s son Daniel, 16, who is a camper van enthusiast and visits VW shows with his father.
‘About halfway through the build, we were road-testing it and a couple of people said why not use it to raise money, so we did,’ said Mr Beardmore.
The van cost about £1,200 to construct and has an electric motor from a mobility scooter and fibre glass bodywork. He bought the bodywork, already designed to look like a VW camper, on the internet.
Mr Beardmore pleaded guilty at Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates’ Court to a charge of driving a mechanically propelled vehicle while being unfit to drive through alcohol.
‘I raised about £40 for the cancer charity [Macmillan Cancer Support] the night I was breathalysed,’ he said.
‘People would just come up and ask to take a photograph and then make a donation.’
Due to the ban, Mr Beardmore now has to employ a driver to travel to his customers’ addresses.
‘He was banned from driving for 12 months and fined £500.’