Seven-time drink-driver still driving

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 14:07 30/11/2012

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The courts are not being "tough enough" on a man caught drink-driving for the seventh time, says his partner.

The man still has his driver's licence while awaiting sentence.

Shayne Kevin Gebbie, 47, was arrested in the early hours of October 28 while driving home drunk from a pub in Rangiora. The police pulled him over in Island Rd, near Kaiapoi, after he nearly hit the patrol car.

His breath-alcohol level was recorded at 1156mcg/L, more than double the legal limit of 400mcg/L.

It was Gebbie's seventh charge for drink-driving.

He said he had been drinking whiskey and thought he may have been safe to drive, even though friends told him he had had too much.

"Yes and no," he told The Press. "I guess I felt all right."

Gebbie's partner, Trisha Howard, who was rung at 3am to pick him up from the Rangiora police station, said she was furious.

"I was really angry."

Gebbie, who pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court on Wednesday, has been remanded on bail until March 8 for sentencing.

He is not allowed to drink alcohol within 12 hours of driving.

Howard did not think the courts had been "tough enough" on Gebbie.

"He's got to have zero alcohol in his system if he is pulled over but they shouldn't have given him his licence back straight away. I wish they'd kept it," she said.

"He shouldn't be driving."

Howard said Gebbie had only started drinking again about four months ago after 15 months of sobriety.

"He used to be a big drinker but he hasn't been drinking like that apart from that night," she said.

"When he's sober, he's good as gold. [His drinking] is causing a lot of problems . . . he's got a problem."

However, Gebbie did not believe he had a problem with alcohol, saying his seven convictions happened over a long period. 

"I'm 47 years old. Those were over many years."

He said he would not be drinking and driving again.

Howard hoped this would be the "wakeup call" Gebbie needed to stop drink-driving.

"I hope it is but I can't speak for him. He needs to decide that for himself."

National Addiction Centre director Doug Sellman, said the centre had a "rule of thumb" where by someone with one drink driving conviction was considered to have "possible alcoholism", someone with two had "probable alcoholism" and three was "definite alcoholism".

"I would hope that someone with seven DIC would be well involved in appropriate alcoholism treatment," he said.

He said it was up to the judge to decide the sentence but that getting a licence back could be a "powerful motivator" to undergo treatment.

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"In general terms, just increasing the degree of punishment is not a particularly effective intervention with self-deceptive people who have behavioural health problems, such as alcoholism."

Less than 5 per cent of people in New Zealand with a drink-driving conviction undertook an assessment, he said.

Sellman said he believed Gebbie needed help and said it was "highly likely" he had a drinking problem.

- The Press

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