Northamptonshire police officer dismissed for being on duty over drink drive limit

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A Northamptonshire police officer who drove to work and started duty while over the drink drive limit has been dismissed.

PC Wendy Bruce had drunk two bottles of red wine the night before - finishing at 10.30pm - when she arrived at work at about 7am, on October 21.

Several colleagues smelt alcohol on her breath and she was subsequently reported to a superior.

On response duties for the day, she was driven from Rushden police station to Wellingborough.

However PC Bruce was asked by a sergeant to perform a roadside breath test and, when it showed she was over the limit (48mg in 100ml of breath when the legal drink-drive limit is 35mg), she was arrested.

At the police station, she performed, more accurate, second and third tests, the lower reading for which was below the drink drive limit, which meant she had not broken the law by driving to work that morning.

However, Chief Constable Simon Edens, who was presiding over the hearing at Wootton Hall this afternoon, said she was guilty of gross misconduct and the risk she had presented to the public and colleagues meant he had decided to dismiss her without notice.

He said: “If she had been called out on a 999 call, she would have been driving a police car with all the risks to the public that entails.

“She put herself in a position where carrying on as an officer was untenable.”

PC Bruce had admitted on the day of the incident that she had been drinking the previous evening and had been suffering from stress and anxiety.

However, she argued today that it amounted to ‘misconduct’ rather than ‘gross misconduct’ because she did not believe she was still over the limit the next day, evidenced by the fact she had not tried to disguise the smell of alcohol on her breath.

Mr Edens made a point of saying he did not believe PC Bruce was dishonest.

But he said that through her experience and training she should have known about the police campaigns that emphasise how long alcohol takes to leave the body.

He said: “Officers that transgress the law undermine that message.”