Three times over by lunchtime

An Invercargill High Court judge has ruled in favour of a Maniototo drunk driver seeking to escape jail time for his fifth offence.

Justice Christian Whata has overturned a sentence of seven months jail for farmer Allan James Carran from Otago rural township Ranfurly, reducing the sentence to four months home detention.

Police caught Carran, 47,  with a breath alcohol reading of more than three times the legal limit, 1266 micrograms per litre of breath while he was driving to Otautau to pick up his wife around lunchtime on Sunday, March 19 this year.

Carran had previously been caught drunk driving on 1985, 1988, 1993, and 2003.

Probation notes for his 2013 offence recommended prison for Carran, citing the five-times offending and his high breath-alcohol reading.

The report noted Carran was a moderate to high risk of harm to others because he was prepared to drive while intoxicated.

The sentencing judge at the time noted Carran appeared to have little remorse for the danger he posed on the roads. The judge believed home detention would not be enough of a deterrent to Carran.

However, Carran's defence counsel Bill Dawkins contended the prison sentence was "manifestly excessive" compared with those handed down for similar or worse offending by others.

Whata conceded it went against the tide of sentences for similar offending since 2007, but he had arrived at his ruling for home detention by a slim margin.

"Had there been more than one seriously aggravating factor I would have had little hesitation in imposing a sentence of imprisonment."

Whata said Carran's level of intoxication was alarming and a strong factor in favour of imprisonment.

"In terms of fixing a sentence, it is relevant the offending over the past 20 years has been separated by 10 year gaps.

"Therefore while Mr Carran is a recidivist offender, he does not fall into category of a repeat offender that exhibit contumelious disregard for the drink driving laws.

"The considerable gap between his drink driving offending and the absence of several of [other cases]  aggravating factors suggest to me community detention is a proportionate response."