Very bad day only gets worse for drink-driver

A Greymouth man had a very bad day when he lost his job, found out his father was gravely ill, drove drunk and then crashed his car leaving him with a $23,000 bill.

Judge Emma Smith told the Greymouth District Court yesterday she was "gobsmacked" at Zane Roy Smith's breath-alcohol level of 1092mg after he crashed his car outside Monteith's Brewery on August 1.

Smith pleaded guilty to careless driving and driving with excess breath-alcohol.

Police prosecutor Gul Quaisrani said people reported hearing Smith's engine racing and when he turned on to Turumaha Street from Herbert Street, he took the corner too wide and smashed into a parked car, continuing for 60m up the road before coming to a stop.

When police arrived Smith refused a roadside breath-test and was arrested.

A subsequent evidential breath-test back at the police station returned a reading of 1092mg.

"This was a very sad fall from grace for my client," lawyer Richard Bodle said.

On the day of the crash, Smith had learned his job at an educational institution had been dis-established and his dad was gravely ill, so he went out for drinks with some of his former work colleagues. His father died seven days later.

Mr Bodle said one of the people Smith had been drinking with was also "beating himself up" for not taking the keys off him.

"Smith certainly usually does not drive when he has been drinking. He can't recall why he got in the car and cannot remember the accident."

Mr Bodle said Smith's losses already had been significant.

"His car has been written off and his insurance won't pay out for the repairs of between $4000 and $5000 on his vehicle worth around $8000, and he is also been hit for between $12,000 and $14,000 for the other car through civil liability, putting him $23,000 out of pocket."

Because Smith was over the 800mg limit he would also have to get an interlock device installed in his vehicle and that would cost him a further $2500, so his lawyer asked the judge for leniency with the fine.

Judge Smith said Smith's level was "extraordinarily high".

She was "gobsmacked" he had been able to drive.

"Well, you couldn't really," she added.

Judge Smith said she understood it was a difficult time in Smith's life, but the offending was serious.

"You are of good character, well regarded and you are remorseful."

She ordered him to have an interlock device fitted, and disqualified him from driving in the meantime.

For drink-driving Smith was convicted and fined $500 and disqualified for 28 days. The interlock device must be installed following that disqualification.

For careless use he was convicted and fined $400.

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