Crash decision reserved

A Queenstown woman charged in relation to a car crash last year will likely learn her fate next week after Judge Michael Turner yesterday reserved his decision following a judge-alone trial in the Queenstown District Court.

Susan Margaret Sanford (42), manager, of Arthurs Point, denied one charge of driving under the influence of alcohol to such an extent of being incapable of having proper control on November 17 last year.

Constable Hugh O'Reilly, of Queenstown, said yesterday police were called to an incident on Park St at 7.25pm involving multiple vehicles.

Sanford was at the scene and when he approached her she stated: ''I think I'm in trouble.''

He said Sanford had taken an easy right-hand bend striking three parked vehicles, shunting them sideways.

She had admitted consuming two glasses of wine and was ''unsteady on her feet''. She was leaning on her car, spoke slowly, her speech was slurred and her eyes were bloodshot.

Sanford had a bump to her head,sustained in the crash but declined to be attended by an ambulance.

A roadside breath test indicated her breath-alcohol level was 400mcg, over the legal limit.

She was again offered the option of being attended by an ambulance, which she accepted, Const O'Reilly said.

She was treated at Lakes District Hospital and a blood sample taken but, due to unforeseen circumstances, the sample was not tested.

Const O'Reilly said there was ''no reason I can think of why a sober driver of reasonable skill could not have taken that bend''.

Sergeant Ian Collin referred to unchallenged notes taken by a doctor who treated Sanford at the hospital and was aware of a previous head injury.

Sanford told the doctor she had consumed ''too many wines'' and the doctor's opinion was she was ''happily intoxicated''.

Later notes indicated Sanford was to be referred on ''when the patient is sober''.

Defence counsel Phil McDonald said Sanford had a pre-existing head injury from a car accident in 2001, which had affected, among other things, her speech and memory.

He referred to evidence from a clinical psychologist who stated Sanford ''could present as being intoxicated even when she hadn't been drinking alcohol''.

Mr McDonald submitted to Judge Turner there was no case to answer because there was ''simply no proof'' the crash was related to alcohol consumption.

Beau Rapley, of Queenstown, was a long-time associate of Sanford and knew her before her accident in 2001.

Giving evidence yesterday, Mr Rapley said he was at the hospital the night Sanford was treated. She did not appear to be affected by alcohol and he could not smell alcohol on her.

Sanford told the court she had consumed two glasses of wine and had food before and after drinking.

Judge Turner was expected to release his findings next week.

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