'My dog did it': Drunk scientist who drove down sidewalk claims her pet was behind the wheel

Melissa Jenkins Johanson's stunts have earned her a 12-month prison sentence, besides a three-year driving ban

'My dog did it': Drunk scientist who drove down sidewalk claims her pet was behind the wheel
(Representational Image - Getty Images/ James Brey)
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FISHGUARD, WALES: A scientist who drove down a footpath in a drunken stupor later claimed that it was not her but her dog who was driving the car, a court was told. Melissa Jenkins Johanson was in court for an incident that happened earlier this year, The Sun reported.

The 47-year-old apparently tried to get out of the parking area of the Ocean Café Bar and Restaurant in February while driving in reverse but failed four times. On her fifth attempt, she managed to drive down a footpath before striking a bus stop, which was very close to a children's play area. Johanson’s alleged stunts were witnessed by a man, who called the cops that day. The man also reportedly saw a half-drunk bottle of wine with her.

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Hannah George, prosecuting, told the Swansea Crown Court, “She eventually went onto the main road where she paused for several minutes. She then went to the Seaview Hotel and then went on to Tesco, where she was caught on CCTV footage.” When Judge Huw Rees asked, “She was doing some shopping?” George answered in the affirmative.

It was also said that when two police officers from Dyfed Powys Police went to Johanson’s home for questioning, she blamed her dog Lily for the mishap. The prosecutor went on to say, “The officers arrived at her address and found the car substantially damaged. The officers then entered the property and were immediately hit with the smell of alcohol. She asked the police if they had any proof for her arrest and then said her friend had driven the car and also that her dog Lily drove the vehicle.”

The court was told that the woman did not cooperate with cops when asked to take a breathalyzer. She also refused to give a blood sample after being taken into custody. The judge noted, “Presumably because she was so intoxicated. She was babbling incoherent nonsense about her dog for a start.”

But Dean Pulling, representing Johanson, defended her by mentioning her career in food manufacturing, which she has been doing for two decades. Pulling also claimed his client had a long history of mental health issues including emotionally unstable personality disorder. He told the judge, “She did not seem to be driving erratically, and the incident did not involve any form of police pursuit.”

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However, this wasn't the first time Johanson was accused of drunk driving. A November 2021 incident had landed her in trouble earlier, following which she was prohibited from the road. Judge Rees, referring to her previous conviction, told her, “For some considerable period in recent years drink has been your nemesis. On November last year you were convicted of driving a vehicle while under the influence of excess alcohol. You were given an opportunity under the auspices of a 12-month community order to which your response has been slow in part.”

The judge then continued, “On February 15 this year you committed these offenses. You were disqualified from driving only three months before. You had consumed alcohol and for that reason you failed to provide a specimen. When police arrived at your address there was an all-consuming smell of alcohol. In your babbling incoherence you showed how intoxicated you were. You were driving in this state in and around Ocean View car park. It is an area of open land which includes a children's play area, and you were there at midday."

“You made four attempts to reverse out of the car park before then mounting the footpath - clearly not for driving on. You must have thought it was the road out. Your attitude towards the offending causes additional concern. You failed to attend the interview with the probation officer, and you had an unsatisfactory response initially to your community order. Your attitude towards Dyfed Alcohol and Drug Programme has been sporadic engagement,” he added.

“Whatever your assessment of this is, let me be very clear - your offending is very serious. Your selfish decision to drink alcohol in large measure and your ignorance to the consequences meant someone, perhaps a child, could have been seriously injured, maimed, or even killed,” Judge Rees asserted before sentencing Johanson to 12 months, suspended for 18 months. Besides, she has been banned from driving for three years.

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