A young mother must have been ''rotten drunk'' when she drove
across town, three times over the legal breath-alcohol limit,
with her 2-year-old son in the car, a Dunedin judge said
''I don't know what planet you were on, if you think you
should celebrate your 2-year-old's birthday by going out and
getting paralytically drunk,'' Judge Stephen Coyle told
Christina Maree Hart in the Dunedin District Court.
The 26-year-old Dunedin mother and student had a 1357mcg
breath-alcohol reading (the adult maximum is 400mcg) when
police spoke to her in the driveway of her Halfway Bush home
after she had travelled from Highcliff Rd about 8.45am on
June 14, prosecutor Sergeant Chris George said.
''At that level, I'm surprised you were even able to get your
keys in the car,'' Judge Coyle said. Another driver had
called police over concern at the defendant's erratic driving
in Portsmouth Dr.
Hart admitted she had been drinking and told police she had
her last beer about 5am that day.
But counsel Noel Rayner said Hart believed she had stopped
drinking about 2am. She had been out the night before with a
large group of friends and family to celebrate her son's
second birthday. Because she knew she would be drinking, Hart
had arranged to stay with a friend, who lived within walking
distance of the venue.
It was the first time she had been out with a group since the
death of her partner in January. She had been ''quite shut
down'' since then and this had resulted in her drinking
excessively at the birthday celebration.
Hart was very much against drink-driving and it had not
entered her mind she could be intoxicated when she woke early
and decided to go home, Mr Rayner said. She was not
consciously taking a risk by driving and was extremely
remorseful about the offending, not only for herself but for
the danger she had caused to others, including her child. She
was a first offender and had pleaded guilty at the first
Judge Coyle said Hart had been driving at 8.45am on a
Saturday, when parents would have been taking children to
''How you didn't hit another car and injure someone is beyond
He said he could not understand how she could celebrate her
son's second birthday by going out and getting ''so drunk'',
focusing on herself rather than her son. But the judge gave
her credit for no previous convictions, her early guilty plea
and the steps she was now taking to address her issues.
On her guilty plea to the charge of driving with a
breath-alcohol level of 1357mcg, Hart was sentenced to 200
hours' community work and disqualified from driving for 10