NANCY, France (AFP) - A blind journalist was given a month's suspended jail sentence and fined 500 euros (750 dollars) by a French court Friday for driving while drunk and without a license.
The owner of the car, who was also drunk as he sat next to the blind man when he drove the vehicle, was given the same sentence and had his license suspended for five months by the court in the northeastern town of Nancy.
The pair were arrested on a country road in the early hours of July 25 by police who spotted their car zig-zagging suspiciously and moving at a very low speed.
The police were astounded when the 29-year-old driver informed them that he was blind, and when they breathalysed him and his passenger, a 52-year-old photographer, they found they had drunk twice the permitted level of alcohol.
"I really wanted to do it (drive the car)," the blind man told the court. "I expressed this wish. He (the owner of the car) agreed."
The owner said he saw "a lot of happiness emanating from him" as he drove, adding that he had "one hand on the handbrake and one hand on the steering wheel" as the blind journalist drove.
"I was very concentrated on the road," he said.
The judge retorted that, as he was well over the legal alcohol limit, "that didn't make you a vey reliable monitor."
The blind journalist had previously driven on a closed circuit, an experience which he had recounted in a regional newspaper in an article which was accompanied by his photographer friend who was in court with him Friday.