A ROAD safety charity has called for a zero tolerance on drink driving saying it was "a miracle" a young girl survived after being hit as she played on grass.

Graham McDougall was more than twice the drink drive limit when he mounted the kerb and drove onto the grass in Bellfield Close, Brightlingsea, and hit an eight-year-old girl who was playing football.

The youngster was able to get up and run away from the incident despite being hit by the Renault Koleos and only suffered minor injuries.

Immediately afterwards, McDougall was confronted by a witness who told him he had hit the girl. He initially refused to accept it had happened.

The youngster’s worried dad went to the scene and described McDougall as drunk and said he was “relaxing” in the front seat.

McDougall, of Red Barn Road, Brightlingsea, was breathalysed and found to have 85mcgs of alcohol per 100mls of breath. The legal limit is 35.

He admitted drink driving and driving without due care and attention.

The court heard McDougall, 50, was extremely sorry and utterly ashamed of himself.

A spokesman for road safety charity Brake criticised his behaviour.

He said: “Drink driving is illegal, dangerous and puts lives at risk.

"It is a miracle that the young girl, thankfully, escaped with only minor injuries following the defendant’s extremely dangerous behaviour.

"Drivers who get behind the wheel after drinking knowingly put the lives of others at risk and should expect to face serious consequences.

"Drinking even a small amount of alcohol before driving increases your risk of crashing and killing or seriously injuring someone.

"We urgently need the Government to amend our drink-driving laws to a zero-tolerance limit making it clear to drivers that not a drop of alcohol is safe behind the wheel.”

McDougall was banned from driving for 22 months and handed a 12 month community order with 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £175 in court charges.