A Taranaki judge says too many repeat drink-drivers are slow learners and can only end up doing jail time.
Judge Allan Roberts noted that of the nine people he sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court on Friday, four were repeat drink-drivers.
Recidivist drink-drivers were continuing to cause a problem, both nationally and regionally, the judge said.
"Four is too many," he told Troy Lionel Bright, who admitted his fourth drink-driving offence.
Bright should have been on guard after receiving a final warning when he was convicted three years ago for drink-driving causing injury, Judge Roberts said.
"Even with those convictions you reoffend. You, too, are not learning."
The message was that it was unacceptable to repeatedly drive after drinking, the judge said. And if people were resistant to change then they would go to prison.
Bright's lawyer, Kylie Pascoe, said Bright was pulled over in a random stop and had not been pulled over as a result of bad driving.
His probation officer's report recommended prison.
Judge Roberts said Bright might learn his lesson through being sent to jail for the first time.
From here on in, if he continued to offend, the prison time would get longer, the judge said.
Bright received a three-month prison sentence after a month was deducted for his guilty plea. He was also given a year's driving disqualification and would receive a zero-alcohol licence and alcohol and drug counselling.
A warning letter would be sent to the registered owner of the car Bright was driving to tell them they would lose their car if it continues to be made available to drink-drivers.
Mathew Gilbert Hoeta, 27, was also jailed for three months after his third drink-driving conviction in seven years.
Hoeta was pulled over in McLean St, Waitara, with a breath-alcohol level of 917mcg - more than twice the legal limit of 400mcg.
Judge Roberts told Hoeta he was a slow learner.
"This is your first sentence of prison. Either you will learn or you will not."
A solo father of two young children, Matthew Peter Smith, 19, was also jailed for three months.
Smith, a disqualified driver, had two young children - not his own - and two other adult passengers with him when he blew 366mcg at 1.50am in Blake St, Waitara.
Drivers aged under 20 are not permitted any alcohol.
Judge Roberts noted Smith's first conviction in July 2011 returned a breath alcohol level of 1045mcg.
"I'm surprised you were able to stand, let alone drive," the judge said.
Smith had received several final warnings for both drink driving and breaching court orders.
"Final warnings for you are like water off a duck's back. You are indeed a slow learner," the judge told Smith.
Smith acknowledged he had a problem with alcohol.
"It's time for accounting. I am going to jail you," Judge Roberts said.
"If your children are important to you, you will need to make a significant change."
Smith was given a three-month jail sentence and disqualified from driving for six months starting in November when the current disqualification ends.
New Plymouth man Trent Ryan Doyle, 36, was told he will go to jail for at least nine months if he continues to drink and drive.
Doyle was caught driving a work vehicle at 9.15pm on June 20 with a level of 551mcg.
The court heard that Doyle operated his own business and was responsible for seven people. He was remorseful and recognised the impact his offending had on his wife and family and was undergoing counselling.
Doyle, on his fifth drink-driving conviction, was sentenced to 250 hours community work, disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to attend the One for the Road Programme.
Judge Roberts gave Doyle a final warning, saying next time he faced a nine to 12 month jail sentence.
"Think on that next time you are given to drinking and driving.
"This will be the last occasion you will leave court by the front door."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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