18-month driving ban for Bristol woman who has just one year to live
A terminally-ill woman with a rare form of lung cancer has been disqualified from driving for 18 months, even though she has just 12 months to live.
Hilary Brown, from Ponsford Road, Knowle, was caught drink-driving by police the day after the first session of chemotherapy to contain her cancer.
She told the Post yesterday that she accepts she made a "stupid mistake", but is angry at the way she was treated by police, who she says kept her in a cold cell for 12 hours, despite knowing she had a terminal disease.
Mrs Brown added that being without a car when she has trouble walking, and hospital appointments to attend, will make the rest of her life a struggle and a misery.
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The 58-year-old was twice the legal limit when she collided with a parked car while on the way to buy cat food from Tesco on Wells Road, on March 15 this year.
The night before the crash, friends had come over for pizza and wine to try to cheer Mrs Brown up after her first gruelling session of chemo.
The following day she was "feeling a bit grotty" and hadn't planned on going anywhere, so she slowly finished off a bottle of wine from the night before.
She fell asleep in the afternoon and "didn't even think" about the alcohol when she grabbed her car keys and drove to the supermarket.
She saw Mrs Brown's Vauxhall Corsa at an angle in the middle of the road, after collided with a parked car, causing damage to the wheel arch.
Police did a roadside breath test and took Mrs Brown to the police station, where she was arrested.
It was there that Mrs Brown was left disgusted with the way she was treated. She said: "I was locked in a cold cell for 12 hours with a thin blanket, no pillow and a toilet in the corner of the room. They knew I had terminal cancer and asked once if I needed my medication. I thought that I'd be out within five to six hours so didn't think I'd need it.
"In the end it wasn't until 9.30am the following day that I was released. The only time I saw anyone was when a nurse came to give painkillers."
Mrs Brown, who pleaded guilty to drink-driving, was diagnosed with small cell cancer on her lungs, chest wall and adrenal gland on February 23 this year.
She said: "I was devastated by the news, but kind of expected it. I'd had pneumonia and a number of tests, but on February 23 it came back positive for cancer. My father died from lung cancer and my grandmother, but I didn't realise my risk."
Mrs Brown, who worked in finance for a sports company before her diagnosis, has been driving since the age of 21, and has no other convictions and a clean driving licence.
The divorced mother-of-three said: "I made a silly mistake, but I'm going to need to rely on my car a lot over the next few months. I'm not good at walking up hills because I get breathless.
"I've been told that my cancer will return within 12 months and that it's untreatable and an aggressive form of cancer. I've accepted it and I've started to sort things out. I'm not working at the moment, so I'm planning some lovely holidays over the next few months."
The court disqualified Mrs Brown from driving for 18 months, but gave her the option of training, which could reduce this by a quarter.
But Mrs Brown told the magistrate: "I could have just 12 months to live so I don't know if this will be an option."
She later said: "I was a bit nervous about going to court, and when they offered me the rehabilitation course I said I would take it. But then I realised it probably wouldn't apply to me if I have only 12 months to live."
She was also fined £320 and ordered to pay costs of £60 and an additional fee of £15.
A spokeswoman for Avon and Somerset police said: "While we naturally have every sympathy for Mrs Brown's condition, she was ultimately putting her own and other people's lives at risk that evening by drink driving and it was fortunate that the car she collided with was parked and empty at the time."
The spokeswoman added that no prisoners are allowed pillows in the cells due to the dangers of suffocation and if she had requested additional blankets, they would have been provided.
She said that custody officers were aware of her medical condition and a doctor confirmed that she was fit to be detained. She was checked by custody officers every half an hour or less, the spokeswoman added.
A Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson added: "Mrs Brown's sentence is within the guideline band for a reading of between 60ml and 89ml of alcohol per 100ml of breath."