Judge expresses frustration with visitors' drink-driving

By Paul Taylor

A judge has called for overseas visitors to sign a drink-drive declaration on entering New Zealand. Photo / File
A judge has called for overseas visitors to sign a drink-drive declaration on entering New Zealand. Photo / File

A judge has called for overseas visitors to sign a drink-drive declaration on entering New Zealand.

Judge Bernadette Farnan, sentencing at the Queenstown District Court yesterday, said she was "quite frankly sick'' of dealing with drink-drive cases.

Queenstown has a long-standing problem with drink-driving. The vast majority of cases before the district court are for such offences.

Tourists and people on working holiday visas represent a large proportion of the convictions.

"I'm starting to wonder if we should have a big notice on coming into New Zealand,'' Judge Farnan said, while sentencing Northern Irish drink-driver Ella Colgan (24).

She said visitors could sign a form stating they understood the country's breath and blood alcohol limits.

"This must be about number 10 I have dealt with today and not a single one has been living in this country.

"It is totally unacceptable.''

She later sentenced two New Zealand drivers with multiple previous drink-driving convictions.

Eight people in total were convicted yesterday, while others were remanded on bail to future dates.

That is relatively few. There were 18 in the last full court session two weeks ago.

Lawyer Liam Collins, representing Colgan, told Judge Farnan overseas drivers represented a larger proportion simply because there were more present in Queenstown and not many New Zealanders.

But, he said, he understood the judge's frustrations over drink-drivers in general.

Colgan was caught driving in Frankton Rd on April 22. Her breath-alcohol level was 576mcg. The legal limit is 250mcg, while the criminal limit is 401mcg.

Collins said she had drunk ``hot whiskies'' earlier in the day but thought she would be all right to drive.

Judge Farnan said: ``You can't have thought for one minute you would be all right to drive.''

She said Colgan had drawn the ``short straw'' in terms of her verbal condemnation, coming after several overseas drivers on the list.

Colgan was disqualified from driving for six months, fined $580 and ordered to pay $130 court costs.

Later in the court session, New Zealanders were up before the judge. It is not always clear who is a foreign national as those on work visas give a Queenstown address.

A spokesman for Immigration New Zealand said it did not do any policy work directly regarding overseas drink-drivers.

A spokesman for the NZ Transport Agency declined to comment.

Fifth conviction

Upholsterer Daniel Bryan Black, of Queenstown, drink-driving, 1004mcg, (fifth conviction for drink-driving), Gorge Rd, Queenstown, January 31, five months' community detention, daily curfew 7pm to 7am, nine months' supervision, with a special condition to attend and complete an alcohol and drug programme, disqualified 16 months.

Community detention

Durand Howard Todd, scaffolder, of Queenstown, drink-driving (third conviction and driving in contravention of a zero-alcohol licence, 630mcg, Hallenstein St, March 11, community detention, daily curfew 7pm to 6am, six months' supervision, with a special condition to attend and complete an alcohol and drug programme, disqualified 12 months and one day and ordered to apply for a zero-alcohol licence.

Other drink-drive convictions

Jeavon Jamie Rapata-Brookland, builder of Queenstown, drink-driving, 138mg in blood, Elles Rd, Invercargill, April 19, six months' supervision, 150 hours' community work, disqualified nine months with zero-alcohol licence thereafter, $209 reparation for analyst fees.

Jaimie Takotohiwi Birch-Thompson, of Queenstown, drink-driving, 985mcg, Lake Esplanade, Queenstown, April 13, fined $1000, court costs $130, disqualified eight months.

Guillaume Eric Paul Bogaert-Rossi, retailer of France, drink-driving, 792mcg, and careless driving, Lake Hayes-Arrow Junction Highway, April 19, fined $800, court costs $260, disqualified seven months.

James Hogarth, of Queenstown, drink-driving, 497mcg, Lake Esplanade, April 7, fined $460, court costs $130, disqualified six months.

Mattia Nicolo Mastrullo, fencer of Italy, drink-driving, 668mcg, Fernhill Rd, Queenstown, April 23, fined $670, court costs $130, disqualified six months.

Carlos Felipe Ruiz-Bravo, of Queenstown, drink-driving, 91mg in blood, Frankton-Ladies Mile, Queenstown, April 14, fined $450, court costs $130, analyst fees $226, disqualified six months.

- Otago Daily Times

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