A DRUNK driver who crashed head-on with another car while going the wrong way along a busy dual carriageway calmly got out of her car to ask: “Have I killed anyone?”
Fiona McLaughlin was more than four times the legal limit when she took the wrong slip road onto the A182 Washington Highway at Harraton, sending drivers swerving out of her way as she hurtled towards them, Sunderland magistrates heard.
I took the wrong turn, my fault, my mistake, have I hurt anyone?Drink driver Fiona McLaughlin
Prosecutor Glenda Beck said McLaughlin told officers she remembered driving her Citroen Saxo at 3pm on February 14 – her 40th birthday – intending to go to The Galleries.
“She recalls reaching the slip road and nothing after that until after the collision when she was spoken to by officers,” Ms Beck said.
The victim, who was driving a silver Mercedes, had been travelling northbound along the outside lane of the A182 at between 50 and 60mph.
“She saw a maroon car careering towards her the wrong way,” Ms Beck said. “She was unable to avoid it and hit it head on.”
The victim suffered soreness to her chest and her car was badly damaged. In a statement read out in court, she said: “This has upset me and I can’t believe this has happened. I am grateful I am alive.
“I’m surprised no-one was seriously hurt or killed.”
Another woman, driving with her 14-year-old daughter in the car, had narrowly avoided McLaughlin’s vehicle, with each car doing about 50mph.
“Shortly after, she heard a loud bang and a silver car had been hit behind her by the car she had seen,” Ms Beck said.
Another witness said McLaughlin’s car was coming towards her the wrong way, but she managed to swerve out of the way, before it hit the Mercedes. She stopped her vehicle.
“She heard the defendant say ‘Have I killed anyone?’” Ms Beck said. “She then said ‘I took the wrong turn, my fault, my mistake, have I hurt anyone?’”
McLauglin was arrested after providing a positive breath test and was arrested. She responded with “I’m going out tonight, though,” the court heard.
She was taken to Washington police station where she had 146mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – more than four times the legal limit of 35mg.
She told police it was her birthday and she had decided to go shopping after a celebratory lunch with her boyfriend and family.
McLaughlin said she had only consumed a pint of orange and soda and said she had “no idea” how she lost control of her car.
McLaughlin, of Wensleydale Avenue, Penshaw, admitted drink driving and dangerous driving.
Jason Smith, defending, said there was no mitigation he could put forward on behalf of his client.
The bench declined jurisdiction and McLaughlin will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court during the week of April 13.
She was given an interim driving ban and was released on unconditional bail.