Top lawyer loses licence in drink-driving case

PAUL EASTON
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2013

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A top lawyer has been banned from driving for six months, after he was caught by police at more than twice the legal blood alcohol limit.

Colin Robert Carruthers, 68, a Queen's counsel, was stopped by police and "showed signs of alcohol intake" on State Highway 2 near Upper Hutt on May 25 last year, police said.

A blood test later revealed his excess blood alcohol reading was 190 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80mg. Drivers caught with a reading over 130mg automatically lose their licence for 28 days.

Carruthers initially indicated he would fight the charge and entered a not guilty plea.

However, he later changed his plea to guilty.

He appeared before Judge Bruce Davidson in the Upper Hutt District Court on December 19, and was convicted and fined $800 and disqualified from driving for six months. He was also ordered to pay analysts' fees of $343 and medical fees of $93.

Carruthers is a respected lawyer who has acted in several high profile commercial cases, and is a past president of the New Zealand Bar Association. He declined to comment yesterday.

Carruthers and his wife, former ACT party MP Deborah Coddington, live on an 11.3-hectare lifestyle block and vineyard near Martinborough.

Carruthers became a Queen's counsel in 1990. He was appointed counsel assisting Sir Ronald Davison in the 1990s Winebox Inquiry.

In 2011, he represented the Crown in the case against the directors of Nathans Finance.

He also represented the Serious Fraud Office in a fraud case against South Canterbury Finance.

Having a conviction does not mean a lawyer must stop practising. When their practising certificate is renewed they are asked about any convictions.

A New Zealand Law Society spokesman said he could not comment on the case.

However, similar situations may result in an investigation by its standards committee. Details of any sanctions may or may not be made public.

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- The Dominion Post

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