When Dunedin police spoke to Philip William Ross, they had strong suspicions he was a drink-driver.

While fielding questions from his car, the 33-year-old swigged from a bottle of beer - then reached over to his passenger seat and opened another one.

The results of the subsequent breath test surprised no-one.

Ross blew a level of 827mcg - more than three times the legal limit.

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He appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to aggravated drink-driving.

It was the fourth time Ross had been in the dock on such a charge.

But his counsel Sarah Saunderson-Warner stressed his last conviction was 10 years ago.

She told the court he had been drinking with a friend when he decided to go and see another of his mates.

Problems arose when the defendant visited the wrong house.

He strolled up to the door, bottle of beer in hand, and asked for his friend.

When the resident explained that person did not live there, Ross returned to his car and resumed his boozing.

Police were called and found him parked up.

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Ms Saunderson-Warner said Ross had moved from Invercargill to Dunedin for a fresh start after the breakdown of a relationship.

As a painter, he was highly regarded by his employer.

Ross, she said, accepted he had an alcohol-addiction problem.

"He recognises it's a life-long issue for him," Ms Saunderson-Warner said.

Judge Kevin Phillips said Ross' criminal history also involved violence and burglary.

The defendant had been put through all the taxpayer-funded courses available and still struggled to control his demons.

"The issue is when it gets too much for you, you drink ... You drink and you continue to drink," the judge said.

Ross was sentenced to four months' community detention, 100 hours' community work and nine months' supervision.

He was banned from driving for 28 days before the alcohol-interlock law would apply.