Gloucestershire Constabulary received numerous 999 calls from people reporting a Mini Cooper travelling north on the southbound carriageway of the motorway near Tewkesbury just after midnight on October 5 last year.
Officers discovered a head-on collision near Strensham Services involving the Mini and a Vauxhall Astra, and two lorries which were struck and damaged in the incident.
Footage released by the force today shows traffic moving southbound along the motorway before the Mini Cooper appears in the third lane and crashes into the Astra.
Carly Pope, 30, from Bristol, who was driving the Astra, suffered a broken arm in two places, whiplash, cuts, bruises and soft tissue damage, while a male passenger had whiplash and bruising.
The driver of the Mini Cooper, Dorothy Denny, 65, from Bredon, Worcestershire, sustained broken ribs.
She provided a roadside breath test that was more than three times the legal limit.
Denny later admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving and a charge of drink driving, when she appeared at at Gloucester Crown Court, where she was handed a 20-month suspended prison sentence and £10,000 fine and banned for driving for 10 years.
The sentencing took place on May 19 but police have now released footage and images of the incident, as well as an account of the impact of the crash from Ms Pope, to raise awareness of drink and drug driving.
PC Stuart Dudfield said: “When you see the collision and how close the drink driver came to then crashing head on with a lorry, it is a miracle no one died in this.
“No one expects to see a car heading straight at them on the motorway and it must have been a terrifying few moments for Carly, her passenger and the other motorists who were forced to take evasive action.
“The injuries experienced by Carly were severe, on top of the lasting trauma she has described.
“In all my years’ experience in roads policing this has got to be one of the starkest examples of what can happen when you drink drive or drive whilst impaired.
“The defendant was compliant during my investigation and very remorseful, however that does not excuse the fact that she has made a conscious decision to drive her vehicle whilst intoxicated.
“Anyone who thinks they can still drive under the influence of drink or drugs should watch this footage, read Carly’s words and think about the implications.”
Police said Denny admitted drinking alcohol after receiving sad news and had driven to a garage in Ashchurch Road, Tewkesbury, to buy milk and more alcohol.
After leaving the forecourt, she turned left instead of right for her home address, then went around the roundabout to get back off at Ashchurch Road.
Denny then took a left-hand turn to the M5 southbound off-slip and travelled up the motorway on the southbound side.
She believed she was in lane one but was actually in lane three and carried on driving against the flow of traffic for more than two miles before colliding head on with the Astra and striking two lorries.
Ms Pope described the “excruciating” injuries she suffered in the crash, which have left her permanently disfigured and she may never regain a full range of motion.
The personal trainer said: “Following the incident I have had breakdowns as a passenger on the motorway at night, I have vivid nightmares when I do manage to sleep and I don’t feel as though I will ever be as confident a driver as I once was.
“I am now so detached from my job due to my reduced ability and confidence to teach that I have been signed off by my doctor three times since the accident.
“It is now at the point where I may have to change my career entirely and that breaks my heart.”
She said her mental health had “rapidly declined” since the crash, adding: “I have been unable eat or sleep or maintain a normal routine at all because my entire life was destroyed by this accident”.