A drunken mother who sped down a motorway in the wrong direction for 23 miles while TWICE the drink drive limit was jailed for nine months today.
Reckless Deborah Hunt, 43, performed two U-turns in the middle of the M5 in her partner’s Peugeot 806 and almost collided with a police car with its blue lights flashing.
The mum-of-three entered the southbound carriageway at Junction 24 near Bridgwater, Somerset, at around 11pm but realised she wanted to go northbound instead.
She performed a U-turn from the slow lane into the fast lane before driving northbound up the carriageway at 60mph.
Terrified motorists made at least 10 calls to police – who finally caught up with Hunt almost three junctions after she had joined the motorway.
Jobless Hunt then performed ANOTHER U-turn from the fast lane to the hard shoulder and only stopped after she ran out of fuel.
When officers reached the former financial advisor she was ”strongly smelling” of alcohol and desperately trying to restart her engine.
Today she wept loudly in the dock at Bristol Crown Court as His Honour Judge Mark Horton sentenced her to nine months imprisonment.
He told her: ”You took control of the most dangerous weapon placed in the hands of members of the public in this country – a motor vehicle.
”You did so when you were drunk, two and a half times the legal limit.
”You were going in the wrong direction and so you did a U-turn to then drive in the fast lane of the motor way on the wrong side of the road at 60mph.
”You drove something slightly in excess of 20 miles on the motor way on the wrong side of the road causing terror to members of the public who were lawfully using the motorway and travelling in the right direction.
”You risked causing massive loss of life, large damage to property and the ruination of the lives of all of those who would have been affected by that.
”You were not even insured to drive the vehicle so if there had been damage and loss others would have had to pick up the bill.”
He sentenced her to seven months imprisonment for dangerous driving and a further two months for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Judge Horton also banned Hunt from driving for 15 months and said she would have to prove to the Secretary of State that she was sober before her licence was returned.
Footage of Hunt’s terrifying jaunt on July 14 this year was released by police yesterday after her sentence in a bid to deter drink drivers.
Hunt previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, having excess alcohol and no insurance at North Somerset Magistrates Court in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
Prosecutor John Dyer told Bristol Crown Court how drivers had desperately tried to flash Hunt, as well as police with their ‘blues and twos’ on.
He said: ”At least 10 people are logged as making emergency calls.
”Mr Hester saw the Peugeot drove on the M5 at Junction 24 heading south.
”He then saw it turn and head the wrong way heading North.
”When Miss Hunt was interviewed she herself couldn’t help with what was going on.
”She summarised as saying the standard for driving was not particularly good and she did not know what to do.”
Officers had to cross six lanes of traffic to reach Hunt after she finally came to a halt 23 miles after joining the motorway.
Mr Dyer told the court Hunt, of Langport, Somerset, only stopped the car just north of Burnham-on-Sea when it ran out of diesel.
Hunt was arrested and taken Weston-super-Mare police station where a breath test revealed 83 micrograms of alcohol in 100 ml of breath – almost two and a half times the legal limit.
Mitigating, Nigel Askhan told the court Hunt was struggling to cope with custody issues surrounding her two youngest children, aged just nine and three.
He said she had a ”hazy recollection” of the incident and previously had just two driving convictions for speeding.
He said: ”She can’t say how it was that she was driving the wrong way on the carriageway.
”She can only say that it was a ridiculous piece of driving.
”Thank heavens that no-one was injured.”
After she was sentenced, Supt Ian Smith, from Avon and Somerset’s operations department, called Hunt’s actions ”outrageous” and potentially ”catastrophic”.
He said: ”Deborah Hunt was lucky not to have killed someone or herself.
”Drink driving is in itself an inherently dangerous act but to drive on a motorway contrary to the flow of traffic is an outrageously perilous act that could have resulted in the most catastrophic of consequences.
”What makes this more appalling is the lack of regard she has shown in terms of the consequences of her criminal actions that may have resulted in her own death or serious injury.”
If you have been caught drunk driving one time too many, please consider getting the necessary alcoholism treatments before you hurt yourself or somebody else.