Overseas holiday up in air after third drink driving conviction
Spending $20,000 on airline tickets to the United Kingdom and Europe could prove to be wasted money for a Hamilton man caught driving at more than three times the legal booze limit.
It was drink driving conviction number three for Ricky Wade Nicholson, 30, who appeared for sentence in the Hamilton District Court on Monday.
In addition to risking both his liberty and mobility, Nicholson had also placed in jeopardy a trip in early August to visit relations in the northern hemisphere, on which he had already spent a non-refundable $20,000 on tickets to get there.
Nicholson's lawyer Len Caley asked Judge Denise Clark to step back from the recommendation in a pre-sentence report of community detention and supervision as the penalty for his offence.
It was 7.16pm on Monday, November 7, last year when Nicholson was spotted driving erratically on Killarney Rd in Hamilton by a member of the public, who called the police.
A nearby patrol quickly located and pulled him over. A test found he had 805 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath - well above the legal limit of 250 micrograms.
It proved to be Nicholson's third such conviction for drink driving, having previously been convicted in 2005 and 2011.
Recidivist drink drivers are now receiving sterner penalties for their third or subsequent convictions, and jail terms are regularly imposed for repeat offenders.
Caley said Nicholson was employed as a senior planner in a civil engineering firm and would be able to pay a fine.
"He is a man of some means."
After some consideration, Judge Clark opted not to impose any sort of custodial sentence, and instead ordered Nicholson to undertake 160 hours of community work and six months of supervision.
Key to her decision was the fact that Nicholson had completed the Right Track driver education programme, and she asked him in court what he had learned from his time on that course.
The ability to rationalise consequence, the "ripple" effect of his actions, and keeping safe on the roads, he replied.
Judge Clark also noted that Nicholson's 2011 conviction had resulted in a fine and disqualification.
"It's clear a rehabilitative sentence hasn't been imposed."
The judge said she had not been swayed by the the fact he had purchased tickets for his holiday, and it would be up to him to make an arrangement with his probation officer if he wanted to postpone his community work commitments for this to happen.
Nicholson was also disqualified from driving for one year and one day.