A Kaipara man convicted of his eighth drink-driving charge was spared jail because six of his offences dated back more than 20 years.

Thomas Miller, 55, was first convicted in 1975 - re-offending five times up to 1993 - with a seventh conviction in 2008.

Miller, a self-confessed alcoholic, said he had always thought he could manage his drinking problem himself, Dargaville District Court heard yesterday.

When stopped by police in Onslow St in June, the court heard, he returned a reading of 919 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, more than twice the legal adult limit of 400mcg. Miller had told police he had drunk about four to six stubbies. "Clearly this was a lie," said Judge Duncan Harvey. "Your reading indicates you had obviously had more."


Defence solicitor Rowena Smith said Miller had three months ago joined Alcoholics Anonymous and another drive-sober programme in an effort to deal with his problem. He was remorseful and now aware of the risk he posed to the community.

Judge Harvey said Miller's self-referral was "a little too late". "Drink-driving is reaching epidemic proportions and the community has had enough. The public is looking to the court for protection," the judge said.

"The only thing preventing you from going to jail today is the age of your convictions."

He sentenced Miller to six months' home detention with conditions and disqualified him from driving for 15 months.

Gavin Matthews, also of Kaipara, was sentenced to 300 hours' community work for his fourth drink-driving offence - his third in five years. He was disqualified indefinitely from driving.