Auckland doctor dodges drink driving charge

Dr Carl Harmer drove drunk "to escape a perilous situation" at party,

Dr Carl Harmer drove drunk "to escape a perilous situation" at party,

A doctor has escaped a drink driving charge after claiming he was fleeing Northland locals who attacked him for being an Aucklander.

Carl Harmer was spotted driving erratically by police near Whangarei in the early hours of April 13 last year.

He admitted drinking before driving, and recorded a blood alcohol level of 110 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood –  above the legal limit of 80 milligrams.

At Auckland District Court on Thursday, Harmer's lawyer Steve Cullen described the circumstances involved as "pretty extraordinary".

He said Harmer had gone to a party up north, and made plans to stay there overnight.

However he and a friend soon drew the ire of some locals.

"They were pretty unimpressed at these Jafas. He was effectively driven from the party."

Harmer was attacked and suffered serious injuries, including a fractured arm and dislocated shoulder.

He then decided to drive "to escape from a perilous situation," Cullen said.

An anaesthetist at North Shore Hospital, Harmer knew he had to seek urgent medical attention to lessen the risk of nerve damage.

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Cullen also argued a conviction would affect Harmer's career, as he may not be able to travel overseas to conferences or fellowships.

Judge Nevin Dawson agreed.

He noted that Harmer's alcohol reading was not far above the limit.

A conviction would have a disproportionate affect on Harmer's career, Judge Dawson said.

He also noted Harmer had been attacked before he fled.

"If you had stayed you would have faced the risk of further injury."

Harmer was discharged without conviction.

He declined to comment as he left court.

 - Stuff

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