Teen granted drink-drive discharge, 'but only just'

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.


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