Aston Villa midfielder Barry Bannan has been hit with an 18-month driving ban and a £4,500 fine after smashing his car on a motorway while drunk.

The 21-year-old Scottish international crashed his Range Rover Sport on the M1 southbound near Watnall in October.

Thankfully no other cars were involved, and both Bannan and his 20-year-old passenger were unhurt. That passenger was also arrested in connection with the accident, but was released without charge.

Bannan was found to be almost twice over the legal drink drive limit, and driving on a provisional licence. His charge sheet listed multiple offences including driving with excess alcohol, failing to stop after an accident and driving without due care and attention.

Bannan left Nottingham Magistrates Court this morning facing the prospect of having to report to training by private hire car for the next 18 months, and having to re-take his driving test.

But some will feel that the £4,500 fine is a let-off for a player certain to be earning thousands of pounds per week – money that will allow him to continue with his life fairly unhindered, but for the minor inconvenience of having to employ a driver.

Sadly, Bannan is the latest of a string of high profile footballers to be charged with drink driving.

The highest profile case recently was that of Plymouth Argyle footballer Luke McCormick, who was jailed in 2008 for killing brothers Arron and Ben Peak, ten and eight years old, after crashing into their family car while drunk in his Range Rover. Their father, Phil, was also seriously injured.

Other footballers prosecuted for drink driving include Newcastle United's Nile Ranger, former Liverpool player Dietmar Hamman, ex-Arsenal star Paul Merson, Stoke's Jermaine Pennant, and El Hadji Diouf.