Watch: Moment ‘terrifying’ drunken M4 truck driver is arrested
This is the terrifying moment a truck driver five times over the limit careered all over the M4 and could ‘easily have killed someone’. Trucker Andrew Champion led police on a 20-mile chase down the M4 with his 44-tonne HGV lorry weaving all over the motorway. When he was eventually stopped by a stinger, police hauled him out of the cab and found a half-drunk bottle of whisky on the seat next to him.
: Lorry driver jailed for drunken chase Police said it was a miracle no one was killed by the 53-year-old, and praised the actions of an unknown highway maintenance van driver, who created an impromptu rolling road block to hold back the traffic as Champion’s truck swerved all over all three lanes and the hard shoulder during the late-night terror ride. Champion, from Porthcawl in South Wales, was eventually stopped and arrested and has now been jailed for 14 months in prison and banned from driving for four years and seven months.
The nightmare scenario unfolded on the evening of Thursday, May 6, magistrates heard, when police were called to the eastbound M4 at around 10.45pm. Champion’s massive truck had been swerving all over the motorway for miles, and when police first encountered him near Swindon, his lorry was damaged and veering between the lanes. PC Jay Clifton, from Wiltshire’s Road Policing Unit, was first on the scene and tried to get the lorry driver to stop, but he didn’t.
He praised the actions of a Highway Maintenance vehicle, which was warning other drivers. “He was effectively creating a rolling barrier on the motorway and slowing other members of the public down to stop them from passing and getting anywhere near the lorry,” said PC Clifton. “That person’s actions, I’ve no idea who it is to this day, probably saved lives,” he added. The truck continued past Swindon and up onto the Marlborough Downs, a particularly hilly section of the M4 with lots of sweeping bends.
“The lorry weaved from the second lane onto the hard shoulder, missing a recovery vehicle and the vehicle being recovered by a couple of feet. How he didn’t hit them, I don’t know. It was terrifying,” said PC Clifton, who was following behind.
The pursuit was captured on the police car’s dashcam. “At one point you’ll see the vehicle coming alongside a recovery vehicle, and the vehicle weaves from the second lane onto the hard shoulder, missing the recovery vehicle and the vehicle being recovered by a couple of feet – how he didn’t hit them, I don’t know, and it was terrifying,” said PC Clifton. “I’ve been on the roads policing unit for 17 years, and I’ve never seen anything like that before. I was just terrified for other people.
It’s not the damage he can do to himself, which is going to happen, it’s the danger he’s giving to other members of the public. Had he crossed the carriageway into oncoming vehicles, we could have been looking at fatalities, had he gone into any roadworks and hit a member of the maintenance crew, people could have died,” he added. Eventually, Thames Valley Police got out and ahead of the truck as it approached Reading, and bravely deployed a stinger, which burst the truck’s tyres and slowed it down to a stop.
Andrew Champion, who was jailed for drink driving a truck down the M4 (Image: Wiltshire Police)
When the lorry came to a halt, Champion was taken from the vehicle, after several police officers used their batons to try to smash the windscreen and door window to Champion’s cab.
Inside, officers found a half drunk bottle of whisky next to the driver’s seat. Champion did a breath-test and he was found to have 174mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – the legal limit is 35mg so he was almost exactly five times over the drink drive limit. “I was just blown away – this is a professional driver, driving a 44-ton truck with some very, very heavy equipment on the back of it,” said PC Clifton. “He’s blown the highest I’ve ever seen of an HGV in my entire driving career as a roads policing officer.
I was absolutely blown away, I just couldn’t believe it.” At Newport Crown Court last Monday, Champion, of Rhych Avenue, Porthcawl, was sentenced to fourteen months in prison and banned from driving for four years and seven months. He was also fined GBP156 and will have to take an extended retest when his driving ban ends.
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