Driver’s failure to stop ‘panic’

A drinking and speeding driver in Wanaka has blamed "panic-mode" for failing to stop for police.

Scottish national Chainey-Lee McLaren was caught by police driving 76kmh in a 60kmh zone on Aubrey Rd about midnight on September 30..

However, when the patrol car’s red and blue flashing lights were activated, the 31-year-old drove away at speed.

The police lost sight of her, and she later drove into an unknown property in Albert Town.

McLaren contacted police some time later and confessed to being the driver as well as drinking alcohol.

A breath-alcohol test gave a result of 585mcg — more than twice the legal limit.

McLaren applied for a discharge without conviction at her sentencing on charges of drink-driving and failing to stop in the Queenstown District Court yesterday.

Counsel Megan Waller said the defendant "didn’t actively try to avoid the police", but went into panic-mode.

"All rational thought went out the window."

McLaren had lived in New Zealand for the past seven years, and was employed in the "travel and tourism industry" on an accredited employer work visa, Ms Waller said.

There was a risk she could receive a deportation liability notice from Immigration New Zealand and her visa cancelled.

Convictions could jeopardise her plan to apply for residency, her future employment prospects, and her ability to enter some countries.

Her long-term partner was Canadian, so being barred from that country would have serious consequences for her partner and their relationship.

Prosecutor Dan Andrews said the defendant’s ability to enter other countries was a matter for the immigration authorities to consider, not the courts.

"A conviction does not preclude entering Canada, it just may make it harder."

Community magistrate Sarah Steele said the potential consequences for her future employment prospects, and her ability to travel or live abroad, were "generic" in nature, and not out of all proportion to the seriousness of the offending.

She convicted McLaren and fined her $585, court costs $130, and disqualified her from driving for six months.

— Guy Williams, PIJF court reporter