A woman who smashed her head open and seriously injured two friends while high on ecstasy showed the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs, a judge says.
The 20-year-old woman appeared in the Alexandra District Court yesterday after admitting two charges of driving under the influence causing injury.
She was sentenced to 12 months' supervision, 100 hours' community work and ordered to pay the victims $3200 to cover their medical costs.
While Judge Dominic Flatley wanted to use the case as an example of the seriousness of such offending, he kept the defendant out of the spotlight; she was granted permanent name suppression because of a tragedy she suffered in her childhood.
"You and the victims could all have died," the judge stressed.
"People don't seem to see drug use and driving in the same way [as drink-driving]. It is a serious issue and becoming more so, and cannot be tolerated.
"Greater responsibility must be taken by drivers out socialising. You can't take any substance if you're going to drive a vehicle. This message must be sent loud and clear."
The defendant had been at a function in Alexandra with her friends on April 20 and defence counsel Kieran Tohill said she was the designated sober driver.
However, she had earlier taken the class-B drug MDMA, better known as ecstasy.
Travelling north at speed in Ida Valley-Omakau Rd, she approached an uphill bend and left the road surface.
The vehicle — which Tohill said the woman had never driven before and was more powerful than she was used to — continued along the gravel then slid sideways for 70m before hitting an embankment.
The car became airborne and vaulted back into the middle of the road before coming to a stop, the court heard.
A male passenger in the car had to be airlifted to Dunedin Hospital where he was found to have suffered a broken femur, a shoulder injury and several broken ribs, among other injuries.
A woman in the back sustained concussion and muscular strains to her back and neck.
Tohill stressed that his client had no previous convictions and had simply been experimenting with drugs.
"She's not a hardened drug user," he said.
The lawyer put the lapse down to the "folly of youth".
On top of the sentence, the defendant was also banned from driving for a year.