Judge surprised driver could function

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A judge was amazed a Northland school teacher driving with nearly five times the legal alcohol limit was even able to function.

Judge Duncan Harvey made the comment when he sentenced 46-year-old Michelle Beryl Campbell in Whangarei District Court this week.

Campbell admitted driving with an excess breath alcohol level of 1236mcg per litre of breath after she was stopped on January 30. The legal limit for drivers 20 years and over is 250mcg. Then just 12 days later she was nabbed driving while suspended. She also admitted that charge.

"This was a very, very high reading and I'm surprised you were still functioning," Judge Harvey said.

Campbell had a previous conviction in 2014 when she was stopped and recorded an alcohol level of 1192mcg. Judge Harvey said a pre-sentence report confirmed the obvious that Campbell was an alcoholic and had been struggling with that for some time.

He was concerned, if she did not address her problem, she would run the real risk of killing other people.

Campbell drove from Kamo to Keyte St in Kensington on January 30 after a couple of wines. She misjudged an easy right-hand bend, mounted the kerb and hit large rocks on a grass verge on Keyte St. The vehicle crossed the centre line and almost hit a kerb in the opposite lane.

Campbell initially told police she had not been driving but eventually admitted driving from Kamo after consuming wine. Then on February 12 she was stopped on Three Mile Bush Rd and it was discovered she was suspended from driving for 28 days. She told police she was driving to work.

"You simply thumbed your nose at the suspension. It was an indication of your attitude," Judge Harvey said.

Campbell was sentenced to three months' community detention on the breath-alcohol charge, with a curfew from 7pm until 7am. But, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the curfew was from 9pm to 7am. She was also disqualified from driving indefinitely and was not to have an interest in a motor vehicle for the next 12 months. In addition, she would also be under supervision for 12 months. She was to serve another month of community detention for driving while suspended.

The Education Council of New Zealand confirmed, now the legal process had been completed, it would investigate. A spokeswoman said Campbell was still a registered teacher but had signed a voluntary undertaking to teach only at her current school.

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