Watch: Drink-driver filmed swerving dangerously across M25 after downing eight beers
A drink-driver, who was caught on camera driving his white van “extremely erratically” across the M25, has narrowly escaped jail.
James Mantel, 44, was three times over the limit as he drove down the motorway in the rain on the afternoon of October 24.
He had downed at least eight cans of beer the night before on a fishing trip with friends, Guildford Magistrates’ Court heard.
Shocking footage showed his white van careering through the motorway lanes between Junction 11 and 12 near Clacket Lane Services.
At one point, the white van can be seen nearly crashing into a barrier. The video also shows police vehicles pursuing Mantel with their sirens on but he still continues driving.
The court heard when he finally stopped, he resisted orders to step out of his van.
Instead, Mantel had to be pulled out by officers who described him as "unsteady" on his feet, slurring his words and smelling of booze, the court heard.
He was tested with a breathalyser which showed his alcohol level to be 127 micrograms per 100ml of breath – more than three-and-a-half times the legal limit of 35 for England and Wales.
Later, Mantel admitted that he had drunk eight cans of beer on the night fishing trip.
Magistrates were told that he had woken up the next morning feeling alright to drive but when he was behind the wheel later that day, he was distracted by toothache.
During sentencing, Mantel avoided being put behind bars and was instead handed an eight week prison term, suspended for 14 months.
Emily Thornton, prosecuting, said: “At approximately 3pm on October 24 a member of the public called 999 to report a vehicle that was behaving extremely erratically on the M25 between Junctions 12 and 11.
“The member of the public noted the erratic driving of Mr Mantel driving between 55 mph and 75 mph. She noted that Mr Mantel didn’t seem to be in control of the vehicle and was using his indicators incorrectly.
“They continued observing this vehicle on the M25 as it swerved into a crash barrier and into the hard shoulder. At the last minute it managed to swerve aggressively back into the motorway and would have ended in a fatality incident if it didn’t.
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“This was a busy motorway in the middle of the day, the risk to himself and other road users was extremely high.”
A probation report noted that Mantel “felt shamed and remorseful” and that he had lost his job as a timber flooring specialist after being arrested. He was driving a work van at the time.
Speaking on his behalf, lawyer Emma Rendall said: “He was quite clear to me that if he felt he was over the limit he would not have driven.
“He did inform me he had a really bad toothache that day and that was distracting him.”
Mantel, of Erith, Kent, faced a maximum sentence of six months in prison but was given the suspended sentence and disqualified from driving for 30 months.
He was also ordered to complete a drink impaired drivers’ course and pay £213.
Chairman of the bench, Paul Notarbartolo told Mantel: “You had a very, very high reading indeed.
"It’s one of the highest we, as a bench, have seen and that is scandalous, so high you thought that you were safe to drive.”
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