Drink-driving with the kids

By Joanne Carroll

Advocate says such drunken drivers should be charged with child abuse.

Photo / APN
Photo / APN

Parents who drive drunk with children in the car should be reported for child abuse, says a child advocate.

Child Matters national manager Amanda Meynell spoke out after six cases in the past two months of parents in court for driving under the influence with kids in the car.

In the latest case, Northland mother Georgina Sheila Walters, 30, was found with an open can of bourbon and cola beside the driver's seat while driving with her 9- and 10-year-old daughters in the car.

The Whangarei District Court heard Walters was pulled over by police after she was seen swerving all over the road.

She blew 981mcg of alcohol per litre of breath, more than twice the legal limit, and told police she had drunk a bottle of wine and two beers before driving home. Walters avoided jail for her latest drink-drive offence - her third since February 2011. She was sentenced to 100 hours' community work and disqualified from driving indefinitely.

And the two young daughters remained in her care, the children's paternal grandfather Dennis Rouse said.

"They're okay as far as I know," he said.

But another family member said Walters had severe ongoing alcohol issues.

Meynell said adults who drink-drive put their children at significant risk of harm and people should speak out if they believe children are at risk or not being looked after.

"Child, Youth and Family should be informed and work with the family to ensure the children's safety," she said.

A CYF spokeswoman said the department would make some inquiries with the police next week.

AT THE WHEEL

December 31, 2012: A Northland man was convicted of drink-driving and dangerous driving for grabbing the steering wheel from his partner and pulling the handbrake while she was driving with their two young children in the car. William Penwarden was sentenced in the Whangarei District Court on charges of dangerous driving, driving with excess blood-alcohol, and threatening behaviour.

December 8, 2012: A 22-year-old disqualified driver in a car with no registration or warrant of fitness was pulled over in Oakura about 2am, with her 2-year-old daughter unrestrained in the front seat and a 5-month-old baby in the back. She had a breath-alcohol level of 528mcg.

December 18, 2012: Crystal Dawn Bond, 28, was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court to nine months' home detention for failing to stop for police, dangerous driving and driving with excess breath-alcohol. It was her third drink-driving offence and her four children, aged between 8 and 11 years, were with her .

November 30, 2012: Toni Ericksen, 33, was sentenced to 12 months' home detention after pleading guilty to driving under the influence of methamphetamine, causing the death of her daughter Bryer Rose Greenwood, 12. Ericksen lost control of her car on the Kaipara Coast Highway and hit an oncoming vehicle in July 2011. Bryer's younger sister Gemma, then 8, and a pregnant passenger in the other vehicle were also injured.

November 27, 2012: Amy Kathleen Reilly, 28, was sentenced to six months of home detention after crashing into a power pole in Christchurch. She had three children in the car and recorded 1409mcg of alcohol per litre of breath.

Police say boy, 7, behind wheel

A man has been charged with being drunk while allowing a 7-year-old to drive.

Tehere Maihi Maaka was the passenger in a car pulled over by police on Quona Ave in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill at lunchtime last Friday.

A 7-year-old was at the wheel, according to court charge sheets.

Maaka was breath-tested and, police allege, had 1059 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 400mcg. The 49-year-old Mt Roskill storeman appeared in the Auckland District Court on Thursday.

He faces charges of drink-driving, dangerous driving and neglect of a child because it is alleged he allowed the 7-year-old to drive a car.

According to the charge sheets, Maaka has been convicted of drink-driving on two previous occasions.

The matter has been referred to Child Youth and Family.

Maaka has been remanded on bail and is due back in court next month.

- Herald on Sunday

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