Drink-driver a ‘menace’ on road

Wayne Albert Kearns did not have one for the road - he had 16.

The 50-year-old made the stunning confession when he was pulled over in Factory Rd, Mosgiel, early on September 7.

It was his seventh drink-driving conviction, the Dunedin District Court heard this week.

Judge Michael Turner called Kearns “without doubt, a menace on the road” but stopped short of locking him up.

The fact it had been seven years since the defendant’s last conviction was all that saved him from a stint behind bars, the judge said.

Kearns was sentenced to five months’ community detention and 12 months’ supervision.

Police pulled him over on the night in question because of his ‘‘slow and hesitant driving manner’’, the court heard.

Kearns admitted he had had ‘‘15 or 16 beers’’ at a mate’s place and was driving home.

A blood sample later showed 236mcg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, nearly five times the legal limit.

Kearns had previous convictions from 1992, 1993 (twice), 1996, 2008 and 2013, but defence counsel Pete Tuala said his client had not consumed alcohol for the past four months.

The incident in September, the lawyer said, had been caused by him becoming ‘‘overwhelmed’’ by the issues in his life.

Kearns was banned from driving for 28 days, with the alcohol-interlock licence to follow, and ordered to pay $302 analyst’s fees.

• The court this week heard another case study of how to be caught drink-driving, at the sentencing of Che Akuhata James Cooper (35).

He was seen by police driving in Hillside Rd on November 2 but did not raise suspicions until making a calamitous decision.

Cooper flung an empty beer can out of his window.

When spoken to by officers, he said he was driving a drunk mate home.

Defence counsel Rhona Daysh said it was a classic case of a man underestimating how intoxicated he was.

It was not a one-off though.

As he had previous such convictions from 2010 and 2016, Cooper could have been sentenced to up to two years’ imprisonment.

Judge Turner gave him 70 hours’ community work and disqualified him from driving for one year and one day.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz