National | Alcohol

Eighth-time drink driver warned, next time is jail

A recidivist drink driver is on the highway to jail after notching up his eighth conviction for getting behind the wheel while under the influence – despite claiming to have only had one beer at the time of his latest crime.

Brian Fletcher, of Taranaki, was recently stopped by police while driving in Wellington and ordered to undergo a roadside breath test.

He falsely told police he'd only consumed one beer and then returned a reading of 736 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, almost three times the legal limit of 250mcg.

It marked his eighth drink-driving offence, police prosecutor Lewis Sutton told New Plymouth District Court on Monday.

"He's just not getting the message."

Despite her client's history, defence lawyer Nina Laird asked the court to impose the recommended sentence of supervision coupled with community work.

She acknowledged Fletcher's previous drink driving convictions but said they dated back quite far and his last was six years ago.

Laird added that Fletcher was remorseful and that he had never before received a sentence of supervision which, if imposed this time, could help him address any issues with alcohol.

But police prosecutor Lewis Sutton disagreed.

He said there should be some supervision but that it should be accompanied by home detention rather than community work.

"Then he knows next time when he drinks and drives, and it looks like he's going to, then he will go to jail," Sutton said.

"Community work is a step back too far from an electronic sentence and sends the wrong message to him in relation to persistent drink driving."

Judge Chris Sygrove adopted Laird's end sentence but reminded Fletcher of the police's view.

"You're one step away from going to jail," the judge said.

"The only thing really that saves you from that, which your lawyer quite rightly points out, is it's been six years since your last conviction.

"And even that only just saves you from an electronically-monitored sentence."

Judge Sygrove believed community work was a more serious penalty than an electronic sentence, which would see Fletcher "simply" stay at home.

On the admitted charge of driving with excess breath alcohol third or subsequent, Fletcher received nine months' supervision, 100 hours of community work and was disqualified from driving for one year and one day.

"You will need to get the message, as the police have said, otherwise you can look at a sentence of imprisonment," Judge Syrgrove warned him.

Open Justice