Alcoholic spared jail on fourth drink-drive conviction

After four years of sobriety, a Kaitangata women fell off the wagon spectacularly, a court has heard.

Joanne Tracy Oates (47) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday on her fourth drink-driving conviction.

Defence counsel Gordon Paine said his client had finally come to a realisation.

"Ms Oates is an alcoholic. She acknowledges she's an alcoholic. It took her some time to get there but she has got there," he said.

The defendant made headlines in 2012 when she spent the day at home with her young children drinking, then decided to go for a drive with them in the back of the vehicle.

She swerved along the road at 90kmh before hitting the side panel of a passing vehicle and continuing to Mosgiel with a member of the public following her, directing police.

Oates was breathalysed and recorded a breath-alcohol level of 1170mcg.

Mr Paine said the defendant had been sober for four years. But on April 2, she found out: "four years of desire is a long time."

Oates, who explained she was having relationship difficulties at the time, consumed "quite a lot" of beer and hit the road.

After complaints about her driving, police pulled over her Toyota van in Union St, Milton.

"When [being] spoken to by police, it was noticed that she had recently consumed liquor," a summary of facts said.

Oates was breathalysed and recorded a level of 846mcg - more than three times the legal limit.

Mr Paine said she was attending counselling regularly and engaged with Alcoholics Anonymous.

"She knows that she's in an awful lot of trouble here today," he said.

"She's extremely remorseful ... and she knows it's her own stupid fault."

Judge Kevin Phillips said the woman's supportive husband was the key factor in her sentencing.

"If you didn't have him, I'd send you to Christchurch Women's Prison," he said.

Oates was sentenced to five months' community detention, 180 hours' community work and six months' supervision.

She was banned from driving for 13 months.