Drink-driving conviction escaped

A Waihola man who crashed on State Highway 1, wiping out two power poles, has dodged a potential drink-driving conviction.

Nigel Allan Anderton (37) was breathalysed at the scene, giving a result over the limit, but before he could be transported to a police station, he was taken to hospital with chest pain.

When police arrived, the defendant had discharged himself and no blood sample had been taken.

Anderton appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to only dangerous driving.

He was heading north near Waihola when he failed to take a moderate right bend, leaving the road on the left side.

Anderton hit a power pole, bringing lines down and tearing the left wheel off his car.

His momentum took him at least another 40m into a second pole, with similar consequences.

Anderton pulled himself out of the wreckage, uninjured, and passing members of the public called emergency services.

The driver admitted to police he had consumed alcohol and failed an initial test.

When Anderton was assessed by ambulance staff they decided to take him to Dunedin Hospital.

Once there he ''absconded without examination'', according to a police summary.

Defence counsel Joe O'Neill said his client was unaware police were seeking him and his decision to leave was innocent.

Judge Michael Crosbie was not so sure, since Anderton was clearly aware of the ''carnage'' he had caused just hours earlier.

''You gave no thought to remaining at the hospital? I'm a bit cynical about that,'' he said.

Mr O'Neill said the defendant had paid $6846 for the damage to the poles and his car, worth $14,000, had been written off.

Anderton was fined $700, ordered to pay court costs of $130 and banned from driving for 10 months.

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