Drink drive doctor's career in tatters

ROB KIDD
Last updated 14:54 25/01/2013

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An award-winning Auckland doctor believes his career could be in tatters after being caught more than three times over the drink driving limit.

Dr Aashish Vinay Raj was stopped in Greenlane in October last year and returned a blood test of 244 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

The legal limit is 80 milligrams.

Raj, 37, admitted driving under the influence in the Auckland District Court this week and was banned from driving for eight months and fined $1220.

Approached at his Remuera home, Raj was clearly distressed and did not want to discuss the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"I just want to put all this behind me," he said.

However, he admitted that would be very difficult.

"I come from a small community ... if this comes out, I'm finished," he said.

"This will ruin me, my family and my career."

Almost a year ago Raj was awarded the inaugural Mitchell Medal by Auckland District Health Board, given to the most promising senior trainee in emergency medicine in the region. 

A record of the achievement, mentioned Raj had been on the Australian College of Emergency Medicine Training programme since 2005, and was working his way to becoming a consultant.

Raj said he was dreading being judged for his mistake, which he said was his first for drink driving.

"If it was just me I wouldn't care but I have a young family," he said.

The court is required to report to the Medical Council of New Zealand when a doctor is convicted of an offence that is punishable by imprisonment for a term of three months or longer, which includes drink-driving offences.

All notifications are passed on to a Professional Conduct Committee for investigation, which looks at the doctor's competence or discipline and makes recommendations based on its findings.

"Medicine is arguably the profession held above all others when it comes to matters of integrity, ethics, and conduct. Doctors are at the raw end of alcohol-related incidents.

"They see and treat the injuries that result from motor vehicle accidents, domestic violence, and assault cases involving alcohol impairment. Surely they should lead by example?" a medical council spokesman said.

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