Danny Cipriani 'shocked to be over drink drive limit'

Danny Cipriani 'shocked to be over drink drive limit'

England rugby star Danny Cipriani was "shocked" to discover he was over the drink-drive limit, despite having had two espresso martinis and a glass of champagne less than an hour earlier, a court has heard.

The fly-half allegedly had "glazed" eyes and smelt of alcohol when he was arrested after his Mercedes collided with a taxi shortly after 5am on June 1 last year, Westminster Magistrates' Court was told.

The Wasps player, then playing for Sale Sharks, was breathalysed and found to have 67 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath - nearly twice the drink-drive limit in England and Wales of 35 micrograms.

Giving evidence, Cipriani admitted he had been out drinking and eating sushi with other players at Eight Over Eight in Chelsea after England's thrashing of the Barbarians.

But he claimed he felt "fine" and was not drunk, even after he continued drinking with a 4am breakfast.

The court heard he had two espresso martinis and a vodka cranberry at dinner, between 8.30pm and midnight.

Asked if the meal had lined his stomach, Cipriani replied: "Well, we had a lot of rice, some dim sum. I eat a fair bit. We probably had double orders on what we were having."

Cipriani then went to a club for around half an hour, before going on to a friend's house. He left at 4am to have breakfast.

"I had three hours sleep, I woke up and I felt alright," he said.

The rugby player said he had a fry up, as well as a "small champagne flute" and two more espresso martinis, within 45 minutes, before getting a cab to his car.

Cipriani was described as looking "crestfallen" when he was arrested. His Mercedes collided with a taxi at 5.15am on Imperial Road in Fulham, west London.

Cipriani accused taxi driver Muhammad Qasim of hitting his car, which was written off as a result of the collision.

The court heard that he was allegedly "slurring", and driving at speed before the crash.

Cipriani said: "I was not drunk, I felt fine." He also denied he had been speeding.

Prosecutor Katie Weiss asked the player how he felt about the positive results of road-side drink-drive test.

He replied: "I was shocked at the fact that it was over."

She also quizzed the star about the impact any conviction would have on his career.

He said: "It would be difficult to get to training for me, to be working everyday and obviously the fact that you got caught with a drink-drive case."

Ms Weiss put it to him: "It would stop you playing for your country."

"Depends on the coach," came the reply.

She also asked if it could jeopardise any celebrity endorsements, with Cipriani responding it "depends on the brand".

The 28-year-old from Raynes Park in south-west London - who wore a grey suit, white shirt and a burgundy crochet tie - denies drink-driving.

Philip Lucas, defending, told the court Cipriani had been cautioned in the past, for carrying an egg.

He said: "He took a caution in November 2006 for having an article with intent to damage or destroy property. I understand that the item that he had was an egg."

The court was read a statement from Cipriani's England team mate, Christian Wade.

In it, Wade confirmed the drinks Cipriani claimed to have had, but said the vodka was consumed at the second venue, not at dinner.

He added: "I know Danny well and he did not seem drunk to me at all. If he had, I would have called him a cab."

Senior District Judge Howard Riddle reserved judgment until June 24 at 10am, telling Cipriani: "I really have got to think about this. That is why I can't give you an answer today - I regret that."

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