Woman drove wrong way down M5 and caused head-on collision …
Dorothy Denny of Blenheim Drive, Bredon, has avoided jail after being given a 20-month suspended prison term at Gloucester Crown Court on Friday.
The 65-year-old, who has a previous drink driving conviction from 20 years ago, was fined £10,000 and banned from driving for 10 years.
The judge remarked in court: "I am amazed that nobody was killed. How your car did not go under the oncoming lorry, I do not know."
Gloucester Crown Court heard that Denny had been drinking vodka at home for six hours on October 4 last year, before getting into her Mini to drive to a garage to buy more alcohol.
Instead, she drove onto the exit road from the M5 at junction 8 and onto the motorway, heading south against the flow of traffic on the Northbound carriageway.
Driving the other way was personal trainer Carley Pope from Birmingham who was suddenly confronted by Denny's car coming towards her.
Ms Pope, an athlete and personal trainer, was taken to hospital and was treated for broken bones in her wrist, whiplash injuries, and bruising.
Her injuries have had a major impact in her ability to work or take part in athletic events, the court was told.
She has also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and has difficulty sleeping.
Ms Pope said in a statement to the court: “As a result of the collision I have suffered badly with two fractures to my arm. My arm was so badly broken I had to have the bones realigned before being placed in a plaster cast.
"I am having to undergo physiotherapy now that the cast has been removed. I face the prospect of further surgery if I do not get my mobility back.
“My livelihood as a personal trainer depends on my body being fully functional. Having this injury has meant that I have been unable to work or compete as an athlete as a powerlifter.
"I had a good chance of winning two competitions, but this has been taken away from me. My life has effectively been put on hold, which has also affected me financially.”
After the crash, Denny failed a roadside breath test and was taken to hospital, suffering from broken ribs.
While she was in hospital blood tests were taken some hours later and she was found to have 142 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood – the legal limit being 80 mgs.
However, the judge said that due to the delay in having the test taken, he believes she could have originally been twice over the legal limit.
In her police interview, Denny admitted drinking vodka for some six hours prior to getting in her car to get some more from an all-night garage.
She said she had miscalculated the exit for the road to get to the garage from the roundabout and went down the motorway slip road instead.
Amber Morrell, who was defending Denny, told the court that her client was "extremely remorseful" and "mortified to find herself in this position".
Morrell also said that Denny had abstained from driving since the event, voluntarily surrendered her driving licence, and self-certified that she is not medically fit to drive.
Denny pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, causing serious injury to Ms Pope on the M5 southbound carriageway, and driving while intoxicated through alcohol.
The judge, Recorder Neil Millard told Denny: "You were so intoxicated, you didn’t know where you were. This was an appalling piece of driving, exposing other road users to a risk of serious fatal injuries."
In sentencing Denny to a 20-month prison term, suspended for two years, Recorder Millard told her: "You have avoided being sent immediately to prison by the smallest of margins as you have shown genuine remorse; there is a prospect of rehabilitation and sending you to prison would serve no realistic purpose."
The judge added: “Do you understand how lucky you are to be here and that you are not dead? Do you understand how lucky all the other road users are that night on the motorway, on the way to the petrol station?
“You may be shocked by the level of the £10,000 fine, but you are alive and are very fortunate not to be taken down into the cells and on your way to prison.”
The judge ordered that Denny should take an extended retest if she decides to begin driving again after she has served her disqualification period, should attend 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days, and be subjected to a four month alcohol treatment order.