Woman banned for driving wrong way on City Bypass

Johnstone caused chaos on the city bypass. Picture: File
Johnstone caused chaos on the city bypass. Picture: File
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A 54-year old woman who was over twice the drink drive limit caused chaos on the Edinburgh City Bypass when she drove down an off-ramp and travelled against the oncoming traffic, forcing vehicles to take evasive action.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court today, Karen Johnstone of Oxgangs Avenue, Edinburgh, was fined £1000, banned from driving for three years and ordered to sit the extended driving test if she intended to drive again.

She had pled guilty to driving her car on the A720 on November 4 last year with 81 microgrammes of alcohol in her breath, while the limit is 35.

She also admitted dangerous driving and causing other motorists fear and alarm.

Fiscal depute, Ann McNeill, said that shortly after midnight the accused was seen driving the wrong way onto the bypass and going west on the eastbound carriageway.

The driver of a double-deck bus travelling west, began flashing his lights to warn oncoming vehicles of the danger. Several had to take avoiding action as Johnstone’s car repeatedly swerved between lanes and repeatedly struck the central barrier.

The fiscal said that Mr Marc Gillespie was one of those driving east. He had a woman passenger in his car, along with three children aged 10, nine and five. In avoiding a collision, he was forced to swerve and his vehicle hit a kerb, damaging it and endangering those in it. Ms McNeill said that one of the children was “violently sick through shock and fear”. The female passenger phoned the police and Mr Gillespie drove to the next junction and turned round onto the same carriageway as the bus in order to assist in warning other drivers.

Johnstone continued to drive in the outside lane making no attempt to get on the right carriageway at speeds between 15 and 35 mph. Police mounting a vigil on a bridge saw the car and contacted other officers who mounted a road block. They managed to get in front of Johnstone’s car signalling her to stop. She failed to do so for 300-400 metres until stopping against the central barrier. The fiscal said she was smelling strongly of alcohol.

Defence solicitor, Rebecca Weissgerber, told Sheriff Isabella McColl that her client was absolutely horrified at what she had done and the damage she had caused. “She does accept her actions could have had disastrous consequences”.

Johnstone admitted she should never have driven the car and when she realised she was on the wrong carriageway she was in complete shock said the lawyer: “She absolutely panicked and didn’t know what to do, she was terrified”

Her client, she added, had never driven a car since the incident.