Drink-driver ‘incredibly lucky’, magistrate says

A churchgoing drink-driver who skidded 80m before her car was launched into a tree was lucky not to kill herself and her sister, a court has heard.

Luisa Hope Taesega Elisara (22) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday, supported by her family who had come from Christchurch for the hearing.

The convictions for drink-driving and dangerous driving were her first and duty lawyer Chris Lynch said they could have been her last.

"She’s well aware she could have caused the death of her sister and herself through driving as she did," she said.

Elisara, the court heard, held a learner licence on November 13 when she was drinking at a Lonsdale St home.

She was upset after an argument and fled, Ms Lynch said.

The defendant’s sister entered the vehicle in a bid to dissuade her from driving, but her efforts proved fruitless.

Heading towards Hawthorn Ave, Elisara lost control, sending her sliding 80m out of control, on to the wrong side of the road and over a footpath.

The Toyota hit a mound of dirt which propelled it through the air, more than 2m off the ground, court documents said.

It only came to a rest when it slammed into a tree.

Elisara was taken to hospital where a sample was taken revealing a blood-alcohol level of 158mg — more than three times the legal limit.

Ms Lynch said the defendant still owed $10,000 on the car, which was written off in the crash, and would be saddled with the debt for a significant time.

Elisara, she said, was a churchgoing Christian and had support from family and friends.

"This has been a significant incident in her life and quite defining for her, I think," Ms Lynch said.

"She’s from a good family, she’s a good person and I doubt she’ll ever be before the court again."

Community Magistrate Simon Heale disqualified the woman from driving for eight months, fined her $400 and ordered her to pay $130 court costs and $216 analyst’s fees.

"You’re incredibly lucky," he said.

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