A young mother must have been ''rotten drunk'' when she drove across town, three times over the legal breath-alcohol limit, with her 2-year-old son in the car, a Dunedin judge said yesterday.

''I don't know what planet you were on, if you think you should celebrate your 2-year-old's birthday by going out and getting paralytically drunk,'' Judge Stephen Coyle told Christina Maree Hart in the Dunedin District Court.

The 26-year-old Dunedin mother and student had a 1357mcg breath-alcohol reading (the adult maximum is 400mcg) when police spoke to her in the driveway of her Halfway Bush home after she had travelled from Highcliff Rd about 8.45am on June 14, prosecutor Sergeant Chris George said.

''At that level, I'm surprised you were even able to get your keys in the car,'' Judge Coyle said. Another driver had called police over concern at the defendant's erratic driving in Portsmouth Dr.


Hart admitted she had been drinking and told police she had her last beer about 5am that day.

But counsel Noel Rayner said Hart believed she had stopped drinking about 2am. She had been out the night before with a large group of friends and family to celebrate her son's second birthday. Because she knew she would be drinking, Hart had arranged to stay with a friend, who lived within walking distance of the venue.

It was the first time she had been out with a group since the death of her partner in January. She had been ''quite shut down'' since then and this had resulted in her drinking excessively at the birthday celebration.

Hart was very much against drink-driving and it had not entered her mind she could be intoxicated when she woke early and decided to go home, Mr Rayner said. She was not consciously taking a risk by driving and was extremely remorseful about the offending, not only for herself but for the danger she had caused to others, including her child. She was a first offender and had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

Judge Coyle said Hart had been driving at 8.45am on a Saturday, when parents would have been taking children to Saturday sport.

''How you didn't hit another car and injure someone is beyond me.''

He said he could not understand how she could celebrate her son's second birthday by going out and getting ''so drunk'', focusing on herself rather than her son. But the judge gave her credit for no previous convictions, her early guilty plea and the steps she was now taking to address her issues.

On her guilty plea to the charge of driving with a breath-alcohol level of 1357mcg, Hart was sentenced to 200 hours' community work and disqualified from driving for 10 months.


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