Level 'death defying'

An Orepuki man had a "death defying" level of alcohol in his body when he got behind the wheel on Christmas Day, the Gore District Court was told.

Neil Andrew Hamlin, 41, appeared before Judge Christina Cook for sentence on his fifth drink driving charge today.

The court was told Hamlin failed to take a bend on State Highway 96, near Mataura, on December 25 last year.

The back of his vehicle collided with a road sign, and spun in to the opposite lane before coming to rest in a ditch on the other side of the road.

Hamlin had been driving with a breath alcohol level of 1357mcg.

Lawyer John Fraser said Hamlin had a "death defying" level of alcohol in his body while driving, but argued against a prison sentence.

Hamlin was in the "clutches of alcoholism" and should remain in the community to deal with those issues, Fraser said.

The judge said it was only by "simple good fortune" Hamlin had not killed or injured anyone.

She sentenced him to four and a half months' jail and disqualified him indefinitely from driving.

Hamlin was also convicted and discharged of careless driving on the same date, but ordered to pay $133 reparation.

The Southland Times