Marc Kirk was caught by CCTV cameras as he did a U-turn across two lanes of the M62, forcing other drivers to brake hard.
He later attacked a police officer who went to investigate.
But Kirk, 20, a labourer who has previous convictions for drink-driving, and disorderly behaviour, was given a two-year conditional discharge because he is about to start a new job.
Judge Clement Goldstone, at Manchester Crown Court, described Kirk's driving as "lunatic" but said he could not impose a suspended prison sentence.
He said that because Kirk had a job in Ireland, he wouldn't be able to carry out any community punishment in the UK - which forms part of all suspended sentences.
"I cannot impose such a requirement in this case because you are not going to be here to fulfil it and I'm not going to set you up to fail," said the judge.
He said he would otherwise have handed him a suspended six months sentence in a young offenders' institution.
The court was told that Kirk suddenly stopped his silver Vauxhall Corsa on the hard-shoulder near junction 18 because of a row with his girlfriend.
CCTV footage shows Kirk, his girlfriend and two others get out of the car near Birch services at 2am after a night out in Blackpool.
Kirk was getting back into his car and carrying out a U-turn which took him across the motorway into the fast lane. Two on-coming cars slammed on their brakes and Kirk did a hand-brake turn until he was side-on in the middle lane of the motorway.
He then sped back to the hard-shoulder where he had originally pulled over and carried out a second handbrake turn, leaving the car again facing the wrong way towards the on-coming traffic.
Kirk then assaulted a passing patrol cop who tried to stop him. The court heard he repeatedly punched the officer in the face, knocking off and smashing the officer's glasses.
The pair ended up rolling across the hard-shoulder as the officer struggled to arrest Kirk, who also kicked the officer in the head.
Kirk, of Keighley, West Yorkshire, was arrested and later admitted dangerous driving and assault.
He was banned from driving for two years and ordered to take an extended test when he is eligible to return to the roads.
He was also ordered to pay £1,800 in compensation to the officer and court costs.