Police are today issuing a warning to drink-drivers after a woman drove 75 miles along the A31 and M27 whilst heavily intoxicated.
Sibahle Precious Shange, 33, from Bartley, near the New Forest, was today sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, following the incident during the night of September 29/30 this year.
She was also ordered to undertake 200 hours unpaid work, must attend an impaired drivers programme, was fined prosecution costs and a victim surcharge, and disqualified from driving for three years.
She was arrested on the A31 at around 1.15am on September 30 by PC Paul Townend from the Western Roads Policing Unit based at Totton.
Officers were deployed to search for her after a total of six calls were received by both the Hampshire and Dorset police control rooms, from members of the public who each reported seeing a brown BMW Mini driving eratically along the A31 and M27.
The first call was received at 11.52pm as Shange drove from Dorset eastbound along the A31, then on to the M27. Having realised she had missed her junction, she turned at Junction 8 M27 and headed west, again missing her turning and continuing back into Dorset.
She was stopped on the A31 as she headed east once more. Along the way, she encountered overnight roadwork’s on the A31 and a witness described her driving into the coned off area where road crews were working.
Shange was finally located at 1.15am, and when breathalysed, provided a sample reading of 114 – more than three times the legal drink/drive limit, and had been driving heavily intoxicated for at least 90 minutes and covered approximately 75 miles along the strategic road network.
Shange was charged with driving under the influence of excess alcohol, plus the Crown Prosecution Service also added the charge of dangerous driving because of the high level of intoxication and the distance travelled.
Shange pleaded guilty to both offences at Southampton Magistrates Court on October 15, and was sentenced before Southampton Crown Court today.
Commenting on the case, Sergeant Rob Heard – who leads on road safety campaigns for the constabulary – said: “Sibahle Precious Shange actions not only seriously endangered her own life but that of others when she drove heavily intoxicated for at least 90 minutes and 75 miles. How a collision occurred and how no one was injured was a miracle. “Too many people are still taking the risk to drive whilst impaired. Whether you think you feel it or not, alcohol affects everybody’s driving for the worse. It creates a feeling of overconfidence, makes judging distance and speed more difficult and slows your reactions so it takes longer to stop. “If you are caught driving whilst impaired by drink or drugs you could face a criminal conviction, possible prison term, driving ban, and could even lose your job. “People also need to remember that alcohol can stay in your system for some time. After just four pints of lager, you may not be safe to drive for up to 13 hours, so whether you are drinking in the afternoon or drinking in the evening, make sure you are safe to drive the following day. Just because you haven’t had a drink for a few hours, it doesn’t mean all the alcohol has left your system and you can drive. You could still be over the limit.”