A Motueka fisherman is lucky to be alive following a late-night plunge into an estuary.
Leon Kamahi Bruno Casagrande Melchiors, 19, admitted a charge of careless driving and a charge of driving with excess blood alcohol when he appeared in the Nelson District Court yesterday.
Prosecuting sergeant Wayne Johnston said Melchiors was driving a van south on State Highway 6 at about 2.05am on Sunday when he lost control of the vehicle while taking a corner, crossing the centre-line and came to rest in the estuary near Atawhai.
His car had to be lifted out of the estuary, using specialist equipment at a cost of $1000. He told police he could only remember driving, not the crash.
A breath test revealed returned a result of 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit for a driver under 20 is zero.
Defence laywer Mark Dollimore said his client was lucky to be alive, as even though he was a fisherman and used to water he could have drowned if the tide had been in. As it was he was "stuck in the mud". Melchiors had called up the emergency workers to thank them for their assistance.
He accepted the summary of facts, although he was surprised at the high cost of the equipment used to extract his car.
He was a hard worker who had been a fisherman for 18 months.
The incident was a "wake-up call" for his client, Mr Dollimore said.
Judge Richard Russell said it was a "very expensive night" for Melchiors, who was lucky not to have been killed in the accident.
On the excess blood alcohol charge he sentenced him to 45 hours of community work and disqualified him for three months. On the careless driving charge he was convicted and ordered to pay reparation of $1000.
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