A man who was steering his conked-out car while his mates pushed it toward a petrol station has been convicted of drink-driving.
Recidivist drink-driver Russell Hakiwai, 52, was found by police beside his Isuzu 4WD in Havelock North around 11pm last August 29.
He claimed to have been a passenger in the car when it ran out of petrol on Te Mata Rd. He said he and a group of friends decided to push the car several kilometres backwards to a service station in Havelock North.
Hakiwai was half in the car and steering while looking out the driver's window when he lost control and the car smashed into a pedestrian crossing barrier.
He recorded a reading of 180 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, more than twice the legal limit of 80mg.
Hakiwai appeared in Hastings District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to his 15th charge of drink-driving and his 32nd and 33rd charges of driving while disqualified.
When the incident occurred Hakiwai had been awaiting sentencing on an earlier charge of driving while disqualified.
His lawyer Eric Forster said Hakiwai had denied being the driver of the car before it was still running and police could only establish that he had been "manipulating the wheel after the car had run out of petrol".
"He was sort of half in the driver's seat with the door open helping push the car backwards with his leg.
"They are relatively unusual driving circumstances, your honour," Mr Forster said.
Judge Richard Watson agreed, but was curious as to why Hakiwai didn't walk back to get the petrol he needed.
He said Hakiwai had continued drinking and driving "remorselessly" since his first conviction in 1985.
He clearly had "a complete lack of responsibility for orders of the court".
"You are a statistic who will eventually be involved in a fatal accident if you continue to drink and drive," the judge said.
He sentenced Hikawai to two years and four months' prison and disqualified him from driving for three years.
WHEN ARE YOU DRIVING?
Driving, as defined in case law relating to the Land Transport Act 1998, is a combination of acts which produces the result of the controlled movement of the vehicle (whether it is running or not). Those acts must be voluntary.
It is possible for two people to be controlling a vehicle so that each is driving it. Where one person was steering the vehicle and the other was operating the other controls, it was held that both were driving.
- The Dominion Post