Hugh Eyre-Walker, of Church Street, Hinstock, near Market Drayton, sustained fatal head injuries when he lost control of his Ford Focus on the A41 near Stanford Bridge in Sambrook.
He crashed into hedges and trees just before 1am on March 28 this year.
Yesterday at Wellington Civic Leisure Centre, coroner Mr John Ellery heard that the former Burton Borough School pupil had been driving home from a friend’s house in Church Aston, near Newport, after visiting two Newport pubs.
In a statement, friend Gregory Williams said: “We stopped at the Phez pub and had two pints of Carling. Then we went to the Railway Tavern and stayed there all night and had three more pints of lager.
“Hugh didn’t want to stay at my house. He said he didn’t want to wake up early the next day. I asked him to stay and not to drive home but he was adamant and I couldn’t change his mind.
“He didn’t appear to be drunk or slurring his words or unsteady on his feet.”
Blood tests showed that Mr Eyre-Walker had 81 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 80mg. Skid marks at the scene showed that he was travelling between 69mph and 86mph at the time of the accident.
Mr Ellery recorded a verdict of accidental death but said he could not be sure how much influence the alcohol and speeding played.
He suggested that an animal running in front of the car or a sneeze could have caused him to lose control.
After the inquest his father James Eyre-Walker said: “He was a very kind and well regarded young man. He knew firmly right from wrong and intended to go into the police force.”
Mr Eyre-Walker, who played for Newport Rugby Club, was studying policing and criminal investigation at Staffordshire University.