Drunken lorry driver swerved around M5 and knocked over lamp post

A lorry driver has been banned from the roads after he drove 30 miles while twice the drink drive limit and ended up demolishing a lamp post. Oliver Hellawell’s 43 tonne artic was seen swerving around the M5 at Taunton and continued driving erratically after he came off the M5 at Tiverton and headed toward North Devon on the A361. Two drivers had already called the police to alert them by the time his truck crashed near the Bish Mill roundabout, felling a lamp post and blocking the road.

He had an alcohol reading of 85 in breath, more than twice the limit of 35 microgrammes but claimed he had drunk three quarters of a bottle of gin to calm his nerves after the crash. He told police he had been sober when he was driving but had been suffering from a migraine which had affected his driving more than he realised.

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Hellawell, aged 40, of High Street, Crediton, admitted dangerous driving and was found guilty of drink driving by magistrates, which sent his case to Exeter Crown Court for sentence. He was jailed for 15 months, suspended for two years, banned from driving for 30 months, ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work and attend a drink impairer drivers’ course by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him:”You were a professional driver of a very considerably sized articulated lorry. You, above all, should have known about issues around safe driving, the safety of the public, and the immense risk posed by that type of vehicle. “You were about two and a half times over the legal alcohol limit.

You should never have been driving. “Your driving on the M5 through road works was a very dangerous situation and it was so bad on the A361 that a couple of terrified members of the public reported you to the police.

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“They were shocked and thought someone might end up being killed. It was a dreadful event and a very serious type of dangerous driving, aggravated by the outcome.”

Mr Rob Yates, prosecuting, said Hellawell’s 43.5 tonne truck was seen veering across the M5 Southbound near Taunton Deane at 3 pm on September 2 last year, knocking over cones in a road works area. He stopped twice in lay-bys before crashing on the A361 at Bish Mill at around 4.15 pm. A driver who was travelling behind saw the truck hitting the verge and a nearside metal barrier and finally hitting and knocking over a lamp post.

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He blew a breath test of 85 microgrammes and claimed he had been sober while driving and drank gin after the accident.

He told a probation officer he had been suffering from a migraine and did not realise how badly it affected his driving. Mr Nick Lewin, defending, said Hellawell lost his job as a result of his arrest and has now lost his home despite working in a supermarket to try to make ends meet. He has returned to live with his parents and it is as if he is having to start his adult life all over again.

Mr Lewin said nobody was hurt and the only damage was to the truck and to street furniture.

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