A JUDGE said a man with a Holywood address who was more than twice the drink drive limit when he crashed into a sign should "wake up in the small hours of the morning and say 'Thank God I didn't hit anybody, I would be facing six or seven years in prison'."
The comment was made by District Judge Mark Hamill after he banned David McCartney (28), of Park Drive, from driving for 20 months along with a £400 fine.
Newtownards Magistrates Court heard the defendant admitted driving with excess alcohol at the A2 near Holywood on December 18 last year.
A prosecutor said at 1am police came across a collision near Palace Barracks in which a vehicle had "severe damage" to its front and it had "destroyed" road signage.
The defendant was slurring his words and there was a smell of liquor.
He had an alcohol in breath reading of 80 - the legal limit is 35.
A defence lawyer said the defendant, who had a previously clear record, was "hugely contrite".
He said a reference supplied to the court "speaks very highly of him".
The lawyer said the defendant will have to pay off "£15,000" finance on the car over the next five years.
The court was told the defendant was out for a drink in Belfast and trains had stopped and he couldn't get a taxi home and "made the wrong choice".
McCartney was said to be "genuinely ashamed and embarrassed".
Judge Hamill said the defendant was "lucky he hit a sign rather than a person otherwise he would be facing six or seven years in prison".