Lorry driver jailed after overturning 44-tonne lorry on M11 while almost four times over drink drive limit

Overturned lorry on the M11. Picture: SGT COLIN SHEAD/ESSEX POLICE

Overturned lorry on the M11. Picture: SGT COLIN SHEAD/ESSEX POLICE - Credit: Archant

A man has been jailed for 16 weeks after overturning a 44-tonne lorry on the M11 while almost four times the drink-drive limit.

Maris Voitkevics, 45, of no fixed abode, was arrested by officers from the Stanway Roads Policing Unit on suspicion of drink driving following the crash on Saturday, November 25.

It happened at around 10.30am between junction 8 for Stansted Airport and junction 9 near Newmarket and caused huge disruption to traffic as the road had to be shut for around 17 hours.

The HGV, carrying a load of apples, ended up on its offside blocking the hard shoulder, lane one and partially blocking lane two.

Kathy Wilson, prosecuting, said police were first alerted to the lorry on the M25 by a member of the public who rang them to tell them that the vehicle had hit a kerb and nearly overturned in the Dartford Tunnel.

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The lorry continued for around 46 miles before crashing on the M11 in the area of Newport.

Police attended and officers “could smell alcohol on him and his eyes were bloodshot and glazed”, Ms Wilson said.

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The defendant was breath tested and was found to have 137mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, the court heard. The legal limit is 35mcg.

Ms Wilson said before the lorry overturned a car in lane two “had to accelerate rapidly in order to avoid being in the path of the HGV”.

“The (police) officer said it’s only because of the actions of that car driver that an even more serious incident didn’t occur,” she said.

Voitkevics, a Latvian national and professional driver, was found to be almost four times over the drink drive limit at the time of the collision.

In police interview Voitkevics had claimed his last alcoholic drink had been two days prior in France when he had two cans of lager.

He was sentenced at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court yesterday after pleading guilty to the charge.

As well as being sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, Voitkevics was banned from the road for 32 months and ordered to pay £200 costs.

The ban will begin at the end of his jail term.

Paula Fell, mitigating, said: “He had no intention to cause this level of chaos.

“He now recalls having drunk some very strong lager the night before and concedes he drank such a quantity of this strong lager that it would place him over the limit substantially the next day.”

Sergeant Colin Shead, from Stanway Roads Policing Unit, said: “This collision had a massive impact on commuters using the M11 which was closed for around 17 hours.

“We are very lucky that Voitkevics’ actions did not have far graver consequences.

“He was driving was fully laden 44 tonne lorry and the fact that nobody was injured or killed, is far more down to luck than anything else.

“My team and I are pleased that Voitkevics will serve time in prison, and I very much hope this causes him to reflect on his actions.

“Drink driving is a serious offence, and you can be sure that our officers will take swift and definite action against anyone they suspect of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while above the legal limit.”

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