A winemaking job that involved tasting the product has resulted in serious liver damage and an appearance in court for one man.
Richard Laird failed a breath test at a routine stop, blowing 827micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath on July 16 last year. The legal alcohol limit is 250mcg.
The result baffled the Taranaki man who told police he had stopped drinking about five hours prior and thought he was fine to drive.
Laird appeared in New Plymouth District Court this week for a discharge without conviction application to be heard on the admitted driving with excess breath alcohol charge.
It was heard the driving incident preceded Laird's discovery that he was suffering from serious liver damage and a medical condition which negatively impacts the liver's ability to process alcohol.
An affidavit by Laird's doctor was provided and confirmed both the condition and that his ability to process alcohol had diminished.
He previously worked in the wine industry as a winemaker and the work involved and encouraged the consumption tasting of wines, Community Magistrate Lesley Jensen told the court.
Lawyer Steve Rollo argued for his client to be discharged without conviction.
Police were not opposed to the application but submitted that if granted, an alcohol interlock order should be imposed to assist with rehabilitation and as a safeguard.
Since the driving incident, Laird has also been diagnosed with alcohol dependency.
Referencing defence's submissions, Jensen said a conviction would negatively impact Laird's future employment prospects and his ability to secure work as an IT cyber security consultant.
Many government agencies required a clean record for this type of work due to the sensitive nature of the information being processed and the level of trust required to carry out the job, defence submitted.
In addition to the evidence provided, Jensen considered Laird had made many positive steps to rehabilitate and had no previous convictions.
She ruled a conviction would be out of all proportion to the gravity of offending and granted the application.
An interlock licence was imposed for one year, which would restrict Laird to only driving vehicles with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device installed.
"Good luck with your recovery, you've made some amazing steps so far and you've got really good support around you so I'm sure we won't see you back in court," Jensen told Laird, as he wiped away tears upon hearing the outcome.