A SERVING soldier crashed his car after drinking with friends and relatives the night before he was due to return to barracks.

Blackburn magistrates heard Stephen Martin Weir was found next to his damaged car and he told police he had "only looked down for a second".

Weir, 28, of Linden Lea, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol. He was fined £346 with £85 costs and £34 victim surcharge and banned from driving for 40 months.

Aftab Bakhat, defending, said following his return to barracks his client was due to be deployed in Afghanistan.

"It was quite an emotional time for him because he was going to put his life on the line and didn't know if he would be coming back," said Mr Bakhat.

"That was the stark reality."

He said following the collision Weir remained at the scene until the police arrived.