A fork lift operator who rear-ended a truck at traffic lights in Christchurch last night blew one of the highest breath-alcohol levels ever recorded in New Zealand.

Raymond George Gilchrist, 49, told police he'd downed five jugs of beer since he began drinking at 7am yesterday.

Despite not having a licence, and being incredibly drunk, Gilchrist decided to get behind the wheel of his Toyota car at rush hour.

At about 5.35pm, he was driving on Brougham St in the Sydenham area of Christchurch in heavy commuter traffic.

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The Sockburn man drove into the back of a stationary truck waiting in a line of traffic at a red light.

Gilchrist's car was written off.

Police arriving at the scene soon noticed he was drunk.

An evidential breath test showed 1623 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath - more than four times the limit for prosecution at court, and more than six times the limit for an infringement notice.

Gilchrist appeared from custody at Christchurch District Court today.

He pleaded guilty to driving while forbidden, driving with excess breath alcohol for a third or subsequent time, and careless driving.

Judge Paul Kellar said it was "one of the higher" breath alcohol readings that he has ever seen.

He said Gilchrist had a "substantial history" of drink driving offending and that a sentence of imprisonment was "inevitable".

He remanded him in custody to be sentenced next Friday.