Sunderland drink driver caused head-on crash – as she drove the wrong way up a dual carriageway

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A DRINK driver who smashed head-on into another car as she drove on the wrong side of the dual carriageway has escaped jail.

Intoxicated Fiona McLaughlin caused the crash after getting into her car while four times the legal limit on her 40th birthday.

It’s incredible that no one was badly hurt

Recorder James Baird

McLaughlin, 40, got out of her car after the crash and said: “I took a wrong turn, my mistake, my fault.

“Have I killed anyone? Is anyone hurt?”

When McLaughlin, of Wensleydale Avenue, Penshaw, Sunderland, was arrested she turned to police and said: “I’m going out tonight!”

Mr Lee Fish, prosecuting, said: “At about 3pm a lady called Dianne Smith was driving her silver Mercedes along the highway at about 50 or 60 mph.

“She approached a bend and saw a Citroen Saxo motor car come around the bend.

“This vehicle was travelling the wrong way down the dual carriageway and was driving directly towards the Mercedes in the same lane.

“Ms Smith was unable to take any evasive action and she didn’t observe the defendant taking any action either.

“The result was a collision between the two vehicles.

“There are a number of witnesses who confirmed this version of events.”

Both vehicles were badly damaged in the crash, on the A182 Washington Highway at Harraton, but neither McLaughlin or the victim sustained any serious injuries during the smash on February 14 this year.

McLaughlin was arrested at the scene and produced a breath sample which proved she had been drinking.

The reading on the breathalyser was 146mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

Lee Fish defending McLaughlin said: “She is a lady who for a long time has been just about keeping all the plates spinning.

“Her personal circumstances are fairly dire, she is isolated at home and is suffering from depression.”

Mr Fish added: “She lives alone with her two children, a son who is 17 and a daughter who is 14.

“Her son has significant health problems.

“She accepts that this was a tragic incident and that things could have been even more tragic.

“This lady really needs help and it is clear to me that these proceedings have had a dramatic affect on her and she is very distressed.”

McLaughlin, who had only one previous conviction for failing to stop and failing to report an accident in 2008, was given a sentence of 16 months but the judge suspended it for two years.

He also imposed an electronically monitored curfew between 9pm and 6am seven days a week for the next four months and a supervision order for 12 months.

Recorder James Baird, sentencing McLaughlin said: “One can only imagine the horror that Dianne Smith must have felt when she was confronted with your vehicle travelling in the wrong direction in the same carriageway as her.

“Then you continued at speed without taking any evasive action.

“It’s incredible that no one was badly hurt.”