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A Thai teenager who admitted drink-driving at Lower Shotover last October has been granted a discharge without conviction.
Judge Mark Callaghan found the consequences of a conviction for 18-year-old Kanin Supattan would be out of proportion with the crime, ``but only just''.
In the Queenstown District Court yesterday Judge Callaghan said the English student was in a vehicle in a quiet cul-de-sac on October 25 looking for a set of keys his girlfriend had misplaced.
A vehicle pulled up behind him, so Supattan started the car and drove forward between 2m and 5m.
He was unaware the vehicle behind him was a police car and stopped as soon as it activated its red and blue lights.
A breath test gave a reading of 400mcg.
Lawyer Louise Denton said Supattan was not aware the legal limit for someone his age was 150mcg and submitted a conviction could jeopardise his existing visa and any future visas he applied for.
He ``felt a heavy burden'' that he had broken the law and ``let his family down'', she said.
Police opposed the application.
Prosecuting Sergeant Ian Collin said discharges without convictions on drink-driving charges were ``extremely rare'' and Supattan's offending lacked any ``exceptionally unique features'' which should be present for one to be granted.
Sgt Collin said, normally, if a person was not aware of the drink-driving laws in another country, they deferred to the limits in their own.
``In Thailand, the levels are less than ours.''
However, Judge Callaghan said his New Zealand sponsor had described his offending as out of character.
His lifestyle in Thailand was ``not positive'' and he was ``determined never to return to his home country''.
His mother, who was in court yesterday, had taken ``extreme steps'' to ensure Supattan had a better lifestyle and a positive future, the judge said.
Supattan had a ``very difficult upbringing'' in his home country, where he witnessed domestic violence.
is brother was serving a lengthy prison sentence in Thailand and his mother did not want her youngest son following in his footsteps.
While 400mcg was a ``high reading'' for a person of Supattan's age, his level was the only aggravating factor.
``There was no driving fault [and] the distance travelled was minimal.''
There was ``no suggestion'' Supattan intended to drive at all until the vehicle pulled in behind him and a conviction would put his future in New Zealand at risk.
Judge Callaghan granted the discharge, Supattan was disqualified from driving for three months, ordered to pay $130 court costs and donate $600 to Educate Charitable Trust.