Wrong-way motorway drink-driver spared jail

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Wrong-way motorway drink-driver spared jail

A woman who drove seven miles on the wrong side of a motorway while drunk has been given a suspended sentence at Preston Crown Court.

Stefanie Janikiewicz, a 25-year-old teacher from Wirral was found by police, after seven calls from members of the public, driving along the hard shoulder at walking pace.

She told officers that she was on her way to Liverpool to see an ex-boyfriend, but was actually headed in the opposite direction on the M55 and was near Blackpool when arrested

Susan Carter, prosecuting, said Janikiewicz appeared "dazed and confused and smelled strongly of intoxicants."

When breath-tested, she was found to be over twice the legal drink-drive limit.

Passing sentence, Judge Anthony Russell QC, said that it was "a miracle" no one was harmed and that she had been spared as she had previously been of good character.

Janikiewicz received a six month custodial sentence for dangerous driving, suspended for 18 months and a concurrent four-month sentence for driving with excess alcohol, also suspended for 18 months.

She was also banned from driving for two years and will have to sit an extended driving test before she will be granted a licence.

The sentence has caused outrage amongst road safety campaigners due to its undue leniency.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Caroline Whittingham, of the Campaign Against Drink Driving, said: "The judge's ruling is an abysmal decision and as far as I am concerned sends out totally the wrong message. I would call for a minimum five-year ban and a jail sentence.

"A short suspended sentence shows the courts do not take drink driving seriously enough. It is so disappointing. Driving on the wrong side of the road can have catastrophic consequences.

"This woman is a teacher and is a role model to young people. What sort of message does the sentence send to those pupils?"

Janikiewicz's defence told the court that she had since given up alcohol and was making progress with her problems.