A white van driver caught swerving all over the M25 was so drunk he was “unsteady” on his feet and slurring his words when he was stopped by police.
James Mantel was more than three and a half times over the limit after he downed eight cans of beer while night fishing with friends.
Shocking footage showed that even when police followed Mantel with their sirens on, he continued driving between Junction 11 and 12 near Clacket Lane Services on the afternoon of Saturday October 24.
Guildford Magistrates Court heard how the divorced dad didn’t want to get out of his van and had to be pulled out by officers who described him as “unsteady” on his feet, slurring his words and smelling of booze
The 44-year-old from Erith, Kent, later admitted that he had drunk eight cans of beer while night fishing with friends.
He woke up feeling okay but had been distracted by toothache while behind the wheel, magistrates were told.
When he was tested, a breathalyser showed his alcohol level to be 127 micrograms per 100ml of breath – more than three-and-a-half times the legal limit of 35 for England and Wales.
But – despite his actions being branded “scandalous” by a magistrate – Mantel avoided being put behind bars, and was instead handed an eight week prison sentence, suspended for 14 months.
Emily Thornton, prosecuting, said: “At approximately 3pm on October 24 a member of the public called 999 to report a vehicle that was behaving extremely erratically on the M25 between Junctions 12 and 11.
“The member of the public noted the erratic driving of Mr Mantel driving between 55mph and 75mph.
“She noted that Mr Mantel didn’t seem to be in control of the vehicle and was using his indicators incorrectly.
“They continued observing this vehicle on the M25 as it swerved into a crash barrier and into the hard shoulder.
“At the last minute it managed to swerve aggressively back into the motorway and would have ended in a fatality incident if it didn’t.
“This was a busy motorway in the middle of the day, the risk to himself and other road users was extremely high.”
She added: “He was reluctant to leave his vehicle and had to be pulled out by officers.
“He appeared to be unsteady on his feet, had slurred speech, and smelled of alcohol.”
The court heard how Mantel had been night fishing with friends and claimed he woke up feeling able to drive despite necking eight cans of beer on the trip.
A probation report noted that he “felt shamed and remorseful” and that he had lost his job as a timber flooring specialist after being arrested.
He was driving a work van at the time.
Speaking on his behalf, lawyer Emma Rendall said: “You have heard he was night fishing with friends and there were seven of them.
“They were night fishing, had some beers, he believed he had no more than eight beers.