A woman arrested for drink-driving with two small children in the car had one of the highest breath-alcohol levels recorded in New Zealand - and might have consumed the equivalent of 25 drinks or more.

The 29-year-old was described by police as an "incredibly dangerous driver". She blew 1568 micrograms per litre of breath - nearly four times the 400mcg legal limit for adults.

A senior police officer told the Herald it would require at least 25 standard drinks to reach such a high level. "Without commenting on this particular case, as it will be going before the court, generally speaking someone at that extreme level is in need of urgent support of their friends and family to get help."

Waitemata road policing manager Inspector Mark Fergus said police were alerted just after 6.30pm on Monday after a man who was following the woman's car called the *555 traffic reporting line.


"She was seen to be swerving into other lanes and driving off the shoulder of the road. Two primary school-aged children were also in the car."

The woman's licence was suspended for 28 days and she will appear in the Waitakere District Court on January 23, charged with driving with excess breath-alcohol.

She joins a handful of other New Zealanders caught driving with high levels of alcohol in their systems.

Auckland teacher Joanna Winifred Wright was charged after driving with a breath-alcohol level of 1583mcg in July 2006. At the time experts were amazed that anyone would be conscious after consuming that amount of alcohol.

Two other women were caught driving in 2006 with alcohol levels which surpassed the 2000mcg maximum limit of breath-testing equipment. A Dunedin woman who blew more than 2000mcg later had a blood test that revealed a level of 426 milligrams per litre of blood, almost five times the legal limit of 80mg.

Three months later, Tauranga woman Lisa Rachel Bowers was convicted of driving with an identical blood-alcohol level.

A Rotorua District Court judge was so surprised by Francis George Moore's 1714mcg reading in 1998 he ordered the equipment to be checked. Moore was later convicted based on the original reading.