Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Drink-driver astounded police, pleads guilty

Photo / File photo
Photo / File photo

A drink-driver towing a large boat on a trailer who astounded police when he gave one of the country's highest breath-alcohol readings has pleaded guilty today.

Keith Palmer, 40, recorded a breath-alcohol level of 1761 micrograms per litre of breath, more than four times the legal 400mcg/l limit, and a blood-alcohol reading of 385 milligrams per 100 millilitre of blood - almost five times the legal limit.

"That's one of the highest I've ever heard of," Canterbury road policing manager Inspector Al Stewart said at the time.

"I'm surprised anyone with that level of alcohol could physically drive a vehicle."

A judge today at Rangiora District Court, sitting at Nga Hau e Wha marae in Christchurch, echoed those sentiments.

Judge Paul Kellar told Palmer that his "exceptionally high" blood-alcohol reading was "one of the highest levels I've ever seen".

Ministry of Justice figures show only nine drivers have recorded higher breath-alcohol levels in the last three years.

Police said Palmer was returning to Christchurch with a mate after a fishing trip to Motunau in North Canterbury when his boat trailer clipped a parked car as he pulled into the Woodend Tavern, 25km north of Christchurch, about 4pm on December 21, last year.

Pub patrons phoned police with concerns about Palmer's driving.

Police prosecutor Stewart Sluis said he caused $800 damage to a Holden Torana he collided with.

When spoken to by police afterwards, he admitted spending the day fishing and drinking, but could offer no explanation for his driving.

Palmer said he did not know that he had hit the parked car.

Defence counsel Keith Hales said Palmer - who has previous drink driving convictions, the most recent in 2003 - admitted to having a significant alcohol problem and has spent time in detox.

Judge Kellar told Palmer in the dock that the public needed to be protected from "recidivist drink drivers as yourself".

"You pose a significant danger to other road users," he said.

Palmer was remanded on bail for sentencing.


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