A lorry driver was stopped by police after he was seen driving his articulated wagon with one foot on the dashboard.
Mindaugas Jucius was in "a reclined position" and had his knee against the window as he drove on the A1(M) near Washington.
A concerned driver saw Jucius swerve twice onto the hard shoulder, South Nortnumbria Magistrates' Court heard.
"The driving on the northbound carriageway was seen at about 10am," said Lesley Burgess, prosecuting. "The driver of a Ford Transit saw a Mercedes lorry he was following overtake a
slow moving vehicle, then veer onto the hard shoulder.
"As the driver of the Transit passed the lorry, he saw its driver was in a reclined position, had his foot on the dashboard, and his knee against the side window.
"After passing it, the Transit driver saw in his mirror the Mercedes swerve again onto the hard shoulder.
"The Transit driver pulled over and called the police."
Ms Burgess said Jucius was pulled over by traffic police at Seaton Burn services.
She added: "Jucius admitted he had his foot on the dashboard, but said he had no need to emergency brake because he always leaves a big gap to the vehicle in front.
"He admitted encroaching onto the hard shoulder, but not to the extent the witness described."
Jucius, 28, of Mitchell Drive, Spalding, Lincolnshire, denied dangerous driving on March 6, but was convicted after a trial last month.
He has a previous conviction for speeding.
Michael Robinson, defending, said: "The vehicle was an automatic, so only needs one foot to drive it.
"There is a column-mounted engine brake which Mr Jucius could have used to slow the vehicle in an emergency.
"As he says, he can see a long way ahead from the elevated position of the cab, it's a view few car drivers ever see.
"I am always puzzled by criminal cases that are put on the basis of what could have happened.
"Yes, Mr Jucius could have killed someone or hit something, but there was no one and nothing there to hit."
Mr Robinson said the camber of the road caused the Mercedes to swerve towards the hard shoulder.
"I've driven that stretch recently," he added. "A wagon returning to lane one did go into the hard shoulder.
"Mr Jucius accepts doing that, but not to the extent it has been claimed.
"He was a hardworking driver who has been able to provide three references from former employers who say he has never given them a moment's concern."
Jucius was sentenced to a community order of 12 months, including 60 hours of community work.
He was banned from driving for 12 months and must take an extended test if he wishes to drive after the ban has expired.