Calling out a drink-driver's "bulls***" excuse for repeatedly putting the public at risk, Northland Judge Greg Davis said the man wasn't missing his son but his drinking mates Cody and Jim Beam.
Richard MacDonald, 26, committed three drink-drives within six months, two of them within four hours of each other during the New Year's holiday.
At 7.45pm on New Years' Day, MacDonald was on a shared gravel driveway off Whangārei's Raumanga Valley Rd, when he pulled a handbrake skid and smashed into a fence.
He fled in his vehicle but was caught by police further along the road and found to have a breath-alcohol level of 705 micrograms.
He was processed and released with a 28-day driver suspension.
Four hours later, still intoxicated, MacDonald got into a vehicle that was missing one of its tyres and drove with sparks flying from the naked metal wheel rim on Murdoch Cres, Raumanga, and at speed along nearby Otaika Rd.
Unable to control the car, he repeatedly swerved into the oncoming lane.
He ignored police signals to stop, mounted a kerb, and drove along the footpath for another 100 metres before finally coming to a halt. His breath-alcohol reading was 593 micrograms.
Bailed for those offences, MacDonald twice breached conditions banning him from driving before police caught him speeding on May 6 and discovered he was again drink-driving (600mcg).
He told police he was fleeing an argument with his partner.
Later, he told the author of a pre-sentence report, he was sleeping in his car due to domestic troubles and did not have a problem with alcohol but drank because he was missing his son.
MacDonald was sentenced in Whangārei District Court after pleading guilty to three drink-drives - one a third or subsequent offence, careless driving, driving while suspended for a third or subsequent time - his fourth, and driving while unlicensed.
Judge Davis said MacDonald's excuses for the offending were "bullshit" and it was time someone called him out on it.
MacDonald's claim alcohol was not a part of his life "just does not make the slightest bit of sense", Judge Davis said. He said the latest offending and MacDonald's criminal history, including 32 family harm incidents between 2010 and 2022, suggested otherwise.
Defence lawyer Gerry Skinner, who appeared for Sumudu Thode, said MacDonald had no previous convictions for drink-driving and was trying to make changes, including by attending a Man Alive anger management programme.
But Judge Davis noted MacDonald had done nothing to specifically address his alcohol problem.
A police prosecutor said MacDonald was exited twice from the Man Alive programme and likely just wanted to be seen to be doing the right thing for sentencing. Police were concerned he posed a significant public safety risk.
The judge said he too was gravely concerned.
Public safety outweighed "whatever sob story MacDonald was trying to come up with here today", the judge said.
MacDonald said the past 21 days he was remanded in custody, he "hated every day of it" and was willing to do anything to set a good example for his family.
He missed out on his son's first steps and did not want to miss any more of the boy's milestones.
Judge Davis questioned it.
"You know how many times people come into court and serve up stories and I think to myself that's just bulls***, is this genuine or just someone trying to tell a sob story so he can get out (of prison)?
"If I let you out today, will you get into the car and drive home from Ngawha (Northland Regional Correctional Facility), stop at the pub and have a beer, then kill someone? 'cos your history tells me that's what will happen.
"It's alright saying 'I miss my son' but were you missing him when you were out at 1am having a few beers and out driving on three wheels or on May 6?
MacDonald's mother, who was in the public gallery with MacDonald's partner, tried to tell the court MacDonald drank because his son was taken off him.
But Judge Davis told her not to speak, that he needed to "vent", and her comments could be the difference between MacDonald getting home detention or a jail sentence.
"I don't think he was missing his son. It was his mate Cody and his other mate Jim Beam he was missing. Let's call it for what it is...he ain't thinking about his son, he's thinking about where his next beer is going to come from."
"I make no apologies for calling you out in blunt, perhaps even unkind terms, 'cos unless someone calls you out this will carry on," Judge Davis said.
Anyone before the court with three drink-drives within six months was staring down the barrel of a prison term, especially when coupled with poor driving and driving while forbidden, the judge said.
He set a sentence starting point for the drink-drives of 16 months' imprisonment, uplifting it for other offences and reducing it by a full 25 per cent for MacDonald's guilty pleas.
He converted the final 12-month prison term to six months' home detention and imposed a 28-day driver disqualification to be followed by alcohol interlock and zero alcohol licence provisions.
MacDonald's $5300 fines debt was wiped to enable him to pay the insurance excess for the damaged fence.