A prominent Whanganui man has failed in a bid to get a discharge without conviction on a drink-driving charge but will appeal the decision.

In February the man pleaded guilty to drink-driving on August 8 last year. Yesterday he appeared in Whanganui District Court to apply for the discharge.

It was declined by community magistrate Jack Best but the man's lawyer, Jamie Waugh, said he would be appealing the decision.

The man was given name suppression until an appeal can be heard by a District Court judge.

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Mr Waugh applied for the discharge, arguing the consequences of a conviction would be out of proportion to the gravity of the offending.

The man had been offered a job overseas which he would not be able to take up with a conviction. His employment in Whanganui was going to be affected, too.

Mr Waugh argued the man's breath-alcohol reading of 615mcg was moderate and that there was no dangerous driving involved. The limit is 250mcg.

"I characterise it as a lapse of judgment ... to drive rather than get a taxi."

The man has a previous drink-driving conviction from 28 years ago. "I suggest that matter be put in the historical basket," Mr Waugh said.

"It's serious and it's high-risk, but in the scheme of things it's at the lower level of that type of offence."

Mr Waugh argued that the man could still be punished by fine and disqualification without a conviction being entered. "It's not a situation where [he] is trying to avoid punishment."

Police opposed a discharge without conviction with prosecutor Sergeant Rachel Willemsen reminding the court the man was twice the legal limit.

In declining the application, Mr Best said the it did not meet the criteria for a discharge.

He said the man made the decision to drive knowing he had consumed alcohol and was more than twice the legal limit. "That is definitely significant."

Mr Best said the man must have known at the time that his decision to drive could affect his overseas job prospects. "You couldn't not have known that when you were doing your research into the position," he said. "You have been aware of these sorts of consequences for a long time."

Society now had a much stricter view on drink-driving and it was considered a "grave offence", he said.

The man is due to be sentenced on July 21, but an appeal will be heard before that.