'Special reasons' for drink -driving

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 07:33 25/06/2014

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A Palmerston North man caught drink-driving for the second time is trying to avoid being disqualified from driving, with his lawyer arguing there were special reasons why the man had an alcohol level two times the legal limit.

In the Palmerston North District Court yesterday, Nigel Paul McCabe pleaded guilty to drink-driving.

McCabe, who is listed on court documents as a shop owner and works at Guthrie Bowron Superstore in Palmerston North, was drinking at the Empire Hotel in Feilding on May 25.

He was spotted by police driving his late-model BMW in Blair St in the Manawatu town that night.

The 49-year-old was pulled over and blew a reading of 1045 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 400mcg.

Defence lawyer Peter Brosnahan said he believed there were some special circumstances which could let McCabe avoid a driving disqualification.

He and his wife had been drinking at a function at the hotel, and his wife was supposed to be the sober driver. But she had a few drinks too many, which required a change of plans, Brosnahan said.

While a taxi had been arranged to pick them both up, McCabe had concerns about leaving his car where it was.

"The Empire Hotel car park is dark and insecure," Brosnahan said.

So McCabe managed to arrange to store his car in a nearby panelbeater's shed, about 120 metres away from the hotel.

McCabe drove about 30 metres before police caught him, meaning police must have seen him leaving the hotel, Brosnahan said.

"His only intention was to park his car somewhere safe. The police have intervened and prevented that."

Brosnahan - who has a history of exposing procedural holes in drink-driving cases, and has a drink-drive conviction of his own - said McCabe's reading was concerning.

However, it was also possibly higher than it should have been through no fault of McCabe's.

He had finished drinking immediately before getting in his car, meaning he would have been suffering from "mouth alcohol", Brosnahan said. "He should have gone for a blood reading, because a blood alcohol reading would have been a far more accurate indication."

There were also other mitigating factors, Brosnahan said.

There was no evidence of bad driving, the road was devoid of traffic at the time, and the distance left to be driven was minuscule.

Brosnahan admitted a major issue was McCabe's previous conviction, but he said that reading was low and it was four years ago.

"Clearly he needs to realise the impropriety of his actions, but it needs to be in perspective.

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"What would be a proper result is a high fine and no disqualification.

"The circumstances here cry out for some relief."

Judge Les Atkins said Brosnahan's arguments were "significant", and indicated they did amount to special circumstances.

However, there was a possibility a disqualification may have to be dished out regardless of any special circumstances, due to how drink-driving laws were written.

The judge said he would not decide the matter that day, to ensure the law was applied correctly.

He remanded the case until July so Brosnahan and police prosecutors could look at the law and file submissions on their interpretations of it.

- Manawatu Standard

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