A drunk brewery worker caused a late-night motorway pile-up when he drove along the A1 with no lights.
Father-of-three Shaun Morrow was banned from driving for two years after sparking a terrifying chain of events while driving south near Washington Services at about 10pm on Friday, March 10.
The 31-year-old brewery supervisor was seen swerving from side to side at speeds in excess of the 70mph limit, Sunderland magistrates heard.
The court heard two motorists who saw the Vauxhall Astra’s initial impact with the central reservation, tried in vain to direct traffic away from the scene to avoid further smashes.
Laura Lax, prosecuting, said: “This incident involves a number of collisions with vehicles resulting in some injuries.
“One driver was heading towards Washington Services in the inside lane when he describes a red Vauxhall Vectra flying past him with no lights on and the left indicator flashing, at well in excess of 70mph.
The witness was attempting to slow down the traffic going down the motorway – he describes the noise of the traffic as unbelievable and said it was very frighteningLaura Lax, prosecuting
“It is snaking around from side to side.
“It then swerved to the right and collided with the central reservation.”
Miss Lax said the witness pulled over on the hard shoulder and attempted to slow down the traffic.
She said a female witness also stopped and the two of them were waving their arms around trying slow cars, but it was not working.
She added: “They then heard a loud noise as a car hit the Astra.”
She said the witnesses themn heard another impact.
She added: “The was a large amount of debris on the road – glass, body panels, coil springs and wing mirrors.”
Miss Lax said the first vehicle to crash into the Astra was a red Mini. This was followed by a dark-coloured Vauxhall with four people inside, one of whom suffered a whiplash injury.
She added: “It is a miracle that there were no more crashes and that nobody was more seriously injured.”
Morrow was taken to hospital to be checked over and tests showed he had 67 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath – the legal limit being 35.
Morrow, of Brooke Road, Carrville, Durham, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol.
Tony Southwick, defending, said his client disputes not having his lights on when he was driving and said he turned them off after the crash, but forgot to put his hazard warning lights on.
He pointed out that the two other vehicles involved, crashed into him, not the other way around.
He said: “He has lost control under the influence of alcohol and hit the barrier. It wasn’t him hitting the other cars. He was stationery.”
Morrow was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, suspended for a year, and was told to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
He was told to pay £85 costs and a £115 surcharge and was banned from driving for two years.
He will be required to sit an extended driving test if he wants to drive again after that.