An uninsured driver led police on a 15-mile chase then told them "I'm an idiot".
Matthew Bulmer, who had only a provisional licence, was behind the wheel of a VW Golf, which he had bought that day for £50, when it showed up on a passing police vehicle's computer as having no insurance.
Instead of slowing down when the officers indicated, with blue lights and sirens, the 28-year-old former school site supervisor sparked a 20-minute chase, where he drove at speed and failed to give way at junctions, in the early hours of March 28.
Newcastle Crown Court heard as Bulmer travelled from Ryhope in Sunderland through Herrington, Newbottle, Philadelphia, Grindon, Pennywell and Ford Estate, other police vehicles joined the pursuit to try to stop him.
His car came to a halt when he switched off the lights and went off-road in a bid to get away, but smashed into a mound of earth in a field.
One traffic officer involved in the pursuit, which started at around half past midnight, said "it was one of the worse ones I have been involved in due to the length of time it went on for and the driving involved."
Bulmer confessed he had "panicked" when he realised the police were behind him and said he failed to stop because "he didn't know what else to do".
The court heard he "apologised profusely" on the way to the police station.
Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court: "He described his own driving as ridiculous and dangerous and said 'I'm an idiot, I could have killed anyone'."
Bulmer, of Queens Crescent, Barnes, Sunderland, admitted dangerous driving, having no insurance or licence, and possessing a small amount of cannabis, found after he was caught.
Matthew Crowe, defending, said: "This was a Volkswagen he had bought that day, which was one of the reasons he didn't have it insured. It slipped his mind, unfortunately."
Mr Crowe said Bulmer "had no idea what to do" when he realised the police wanted to pull him over, adding: "He did panic in the moment and decided to keep driving.
"He accepts this is a matter of fortune rather than design that no one was hurt. He is extremely remorseful for what happened."
Judge Robert Adams sentenced Bulmer to eight months' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with a six-month curfew, rehabilitation requirements and a two-year driving ban.
The judge made a deprivation order in respect of the car, which was being kept on a pal's drive but will now be seized by the police.
Judge Adams told Bulmer: "You have escaped a custodial sentence by the skin of your teeth.
"You described your own driving as ridiculous and dangerous and used fairly graphic terms to describe how other people might view your driving."
Judge Adams said the sentence could be suspended because Bulmer behaved out of character and no people were hurt or property damaged.