A Queenstown woman has been found guilty of driving while
under the influence of drink to such an extent as to be
incapable of having proper control of her vehicle, following
a judge-alone trial, before Judge Michael Turner, in the
Queenstown District Court.
Susan Margaret Sanford (42), manager, of Arthurs Point,
denied the charge, which stemmed from an incident in
Queenstown on November 17.
Judge Turner's decision, issued on May 13, said Sanford left
her parents' home in Park St about 7.15pm on November 17 and
after travelling about 350m she failed to negotiate a
sweeping right-hand bend and hit a stationary Subaru
indicating to turn left into a park, then struck two parked
cars on the left side of the street.
When police arrived she said she had consumed ''two wines''
before driving, but offered no explanation for the collision.
A breath-screening test returned a positive result, but
Sanford was taken to Lakes District Hospital for medical
treatment after sustaining a contusion to her forehead.
Blood samples taken at the hospital were not analysed as they
were ''not fit for analysis''.
''The ESR report [noted] that both specimen bottles had
leaked, as the caps on them were loose,'' Judge Turner's
reserved decision said.
Constable Hugh O'Reilly said in court when he arrived at the
scene Sanford was standing beside her car and said, ''I think
I am in trouble''.
He noted she was unsteady on her feet to the point she needed
to lean on her car; her speech was slurred and she spoke
slowly; and her eyes appeared slightly bloodshot.
Judge Turner said notes from Sanford's doctor at the hospital
indicated the defendant had said she had got into the car
that night after consuming ''too many wines'' and the
doctor's opinion was Sanford appeared ''happily intoxicated''
and required review when sober.
''The primary diagnosis was one of 'alcohol intoxication'.''
A second doctor examined her at 1.45am describing Sanford as
However, defence counsel Phil McDonald argued her
presentation at the time was due to an existing head injury,
sustained following a car crash in 2001 which left her with
Judge Turner said he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt
the consequences of Sanford's head injury were ''incidental''
in her presentation at the time of the crash and the
cumulative force of the evidence established the charge.
He remanded Sanford on bail for sentencing on July 28,
ordering presentence and reparation reports.