Downton star Brendan Coyle gets 4-year driving ban after he was caught three times over the legal limit

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Downton Abbey star Brendan Coyle was described as having a 'significant alcohol problem' after he was caught by police driving more than three times over the legal limit on New Year's Day.

Coyle, 52, who played valet Mr Bates in the hit ITV period drama, was driving home from an airport having just spent four weeks in Thailand at a rehabilitation centre.

He was banned from driving for more than four years on Wednesday.

Police pulled over Coyle after following him on the A149 near King's Lynn, Norfolk. He failed a roadside test and was taken to a police station at King's Lynn. A test showed he had 98 mcg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath. The drink-drive limit is 35mcg.

His defence counsel Steven Dyble told the King's Lynn magistrates court: "I can't say [the rehabilitation treatment] was a success as the commission of the offence clearly shows it wasn't and failed... As was made plain to the arresting officer, the flight home was quite lively."

The court that Coyle has also embarked on a 12 steps programme with Alcoholics Anonymous to tackle his drinking.

It's not the first time Coyle, real name David Coyle, has been convicted of drink driving. He was also convicted of the offence in 2011.

Probation officer Sharon Cooper said: "There is a high level of remorse and a lot of relief that he did not hurt any other road users or himself."

The actor was banned from driving for 50 months and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work. He was also given a 12-month community order with 15 days rehabilitation activity and told to pay £85 costs, plus a £60 victim surcharge.

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.