A judge has told a woman who drove drunk with a baby on her lap and two other unrestrained children in the car that it was hard to imagine a worse case of driving.
Tinylee Alvina Martin, 24, appeared in Opotiki District Court yesterday and pleaded guilty to charges of driving while disqualified and excess breath alcohol.
She was stopped by police on the morning of June 15 on Buchanan Street. The police then discovered the unrestrained children.
She had a breath alcohol level of 780 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath - nearly twice the legal limit of 400.
She was sentenced to 10 months home detention on the condition she completed a residential rehabilitation programme in Rotorua.
Judge John Clapham said the circumstances around the offending were "very frightening".
"It's difficult to imagine a worse case of driving. A minor impact, perhaps even hard braking could have caused loss of life," he said.
"These children have had a very raw chance in life, with both parents indulging heavily in alcohol use, these actions showed scant regard for the children."
He urged the children's families, who supported Martin in court, to "step up and be heard and protect these children".
It was Martin's second excess breath alcohol charge and eighth of driving while disqualified and she had served two terms in prison.
Defence counsel Jonathan Kay said the incident had meant Child, Youth and Family involvement and the children had been taken from the defendant's care.
He said his client acknowledged she had a problem with alcohol.
The court heard Martin had attended four sessions of drug and alcohol counselling and had applied to join a residential alcohol rehabilitation programme in September.
Judge Clapham said a sentence of imprisonment would "frustrate the process" of her entering the programme.
A condition of her sentence was also not to consume alcohol or non-prescription drugs.
The judge said if those conditions were broken, Martin could be resentenced on both charges.
- Whakatane Beacon