A man being sentenced on his 11th drink-driving charge has avoided jail.

James Corby was drinking on October 14 when he went to move his car from a Gonville carpark and backed into another vehicle, the Whanganui District Court heard last week.

Defence lawyer Harete Hipango said two other men had borrowed Corby's vehicle and parked it near where Corby was drinking.

"He received a text because the men who borrowed his vehicle couldn't reverse it," Ms Hipango said, adding the gearstick had "jammed".

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"He got into his vehicle, he released the gearstick, he reversed it ... he went to reverse back into the car space that he had just moved out from and another vehicle had come up behind him."

Corby, 58, was breath-tested and found to have 1232mcg of alcohol in his system, nearly five times more than the limit of 250mcg.

Ms Hipango said it had been eight years since Corby's last drinking driving conviction.

"I'm not asking for a get out of jail free on this," she said. "He is ashamed, he is embarrassed."

She said Corby disposed of the car the next day so he would not be seen as a "risk".

Corby pleaded guilty to driving with excess breath alcohol, third or subsequent.

Judge Dugald Matheson said it was a "generous way to describe it".

At the beginning of his sentencing, Judge Matheson told Corby he had a "very good chance of going down those stairs and out to Kaitoke".

"Hear this from me, you do have an alcohol problem. A person with 10 previous drink-driving offences, a proportion of which have very high readings, has a drinking problem. Don't even think about talking around it that it's just an irregular event.

"Your former partner suggests you struggle to accept that you have an issue. It's time you wake up. A period out at Kaitoke will help you do just that."

Judge Matheson said people "driving around the community with 1200 breath in their system are a danger".

He looked at imposing a nearly maximum sentence of two years imprisonment.

He chose a starting point of 20 months in prison with a four month uplift for his history. He then allowed a four month discount for counselling Corby has engaged in, and a further 25 per cent discount for his early guilty plea.

He ended with a 15 month prison term, which he changed to eight months of home detention, which was recommended in the pre-sentence report.

"You have started making noises and going the right direction ... this wasn't some young hoon tearing around the streets of Whanganui over the limit. You shouldn't have been driving, but you were. But it wasn't the worst incident of accident that I have come across in this court.

"I think that sending you to prison would be a waste of resource and a waste of your time and mine."

While on home detention Corby will do programmes prescribed by probation.

Judge Matheson said home detention was "not a soft option".

As well as home detention, Judge Matheson also disqualified Corby from driving for 18 months and ordered him to pay reparation of $385.83.