An HGV driver who was spotted driving erratically on the M5 has been jailed after he was pulled over and found to be more than three-and-a-half times over the legal alcohol limit.

Ihar Shynkevich, 35, was stopped by Somerset police on the afternoon of 5 February following a 999 call from a member of the public who had observed his lorry veering between lanes.

Police dashcam footage also showed Shynkevich’s vehicle, which was carrying cargo weighing more than 21 tonnes, narrowly avoiding a car joining the northbound carriageway at junction 22.

He was arrested at Sedgemoor Service Station after a roadside breath test revealed the truck driver had 135 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath, way above the legal limit of 35 micrograms.

Shynkevich appeared at Taunton Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced to 19 weeks imprisonment, in addition to being disqualified for 1,163 days.

Roads policing assistant inspector Stephen Whatley said: “Considering the size of Shynkevich’s vehicle, the weight of the load he was carrying and the manner of his driving on a busy stretch of carriageway, there could easily have been a major collision on the M5 that afternoon.

“Fortunately, this was avoided and a dangerous driver has now been taken off the roads thanks to a report from a member of the public.

“Given the seriousness of the circumstances, a custodial sentence is appropriate and welcomed.”

Somerset police said so far this year there had been 255 arrests for drink driving and 153 arrests for drug driving in Avon and Somerset, a total of 408 arrests in just over eight weeks. For comparison, 324 drivers were arrested during our annual winter operation to target drink and drug drivers, which ran during the month of December.

Chief inspector Rob Cheeseman, said: “The arrest data for the first eight weeks of 2024 shows that drink and drug driving remains a major problem on our roads, despite the well-known risks.

“It should also dispel the misconception that enforcement activity only goes on during the Christmas period when media attention peaks. To be clear: those who make the reckless choice to drink or drug drive, day or night, should expect to get caught.”

M5 Somerset

M5 Somerset