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Bury St Edmunds: Drink driver admitted having a bottle of vodka a night for three days before being caught five times the legal limit while driving on the A14

PUBLISHED: 09:40 29 July 2014 | UPDATED: 14:28 29 July 2014

A drink driver who veered uncontrollably across the A14 at 80mph while almost five times the legal limit has been sentenced to 12 weeks behind bars.

The sentence was handed to James Irvine yesterday over what magistrate Robin Howe called one of the highest drink-driving readings he had come across in nearly 30 years on the bench.

Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court heard Irvine’s van lurched from more than 80mph to 50mph, came perilously close to other cars and even swerved onto an incoming slip road before police were finally able to pull him over.

Prosecutor Stephen Colman said the 32-year-old’s van was found driving “very erratically” on the westbound carriageway at Rougham at around 7.50pm on June 9.

Reading out a statement from an officer, Mr Colman said: “The officer says it was my honestly-held belief that I was about to witness a crash,

“I found myself in the horrifying position of having to hold back, as there was at that point no safe lay-by to stop the vehicle.

“Each time the Citroen van passed another car, it was by the narrowest of margins that a collision was avoided - certainly more by luck than judgement.”

Irvine, of Lincoln, was unable to provide an accurate breath test given the level of alcohol in his mouth.

However, a blood sample found Irvine with 385mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 80mg.

Irvine, who was representing himself in court, said: “Three nights on the trot I drank three big bottles of vodka and when I finished work I thought it would be alright to have two or three pints.

“Obviously it’s all coming together.”

On June 15, while Irvine was on bail, he was caught drunk behind the wheel in Lincolnshire and pleaded guilty to drink driving the next day.

He was then caught drink driving on the same day he left court, and was given a suspended prison sentence.

Mr Howe described Irvine’s reading as “off the scale”, adding: “This is one of the highest the court has ever seen, certainly I have ever seen.

“This offence is so serious, the reading so high, that only custody is justified.”

Irvine told the court he was co-operating with probation in Lincolnshire, but a probation officer from Suffolk checked and found this was not the case, with Irvine even turning up drunk to one his meetings.

Magistrates also disqualified Irvine from driving for five years.

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