A promising young female rugby player has failed in her bid to get a discharge without conviction on a drink-driving charge.

Murihuku Teau Martell was 19 and subject to a zero-drink driving limit when she was stopped by police in Hamilton during the early hours of November 24, last year.

When breath-tested she returned a level of 514mcg. When questioned why she was driving, Martell said she was out "to support a friend".

Martell, who has since turned 20, appeared in the Hamilton District Court today when, through her lawyer Dave Allen, she applied for a discharge without conviction.


Community magistrate Terry Bourke noted she wasn't pulled over due to her driving, rather "poor judgement".

"You completely forgot to put your headlights on and that may have been affected by the amount of alcohol you had had to drink prior to driving."

Police opposed Martell's application stating her reasons were simply "speculative" and she was double the adult drink-drive limit of 250mcg.

Bourke said the applications are only granted in "exceptional circumstances".

"That's because the offence is inherently serious whenever the alcohol level is more than minimally above the permissible level, good character and extenuating personal circumstances normally account for little in determining the appropriate sentence."

Her lawyer Dave Allen made the submission based on Martell's promising sporting career in both women's rugby and league, which could lead her to travelling with national squads.

He accepted the submission was only "speculative" as she was not in the team and had been hampered by injuries. She'd also had two right-knee ACL reconstruction surgeries, he said.

She had been training with the wider Black Ferns squad at the time she sustained her latest injury. Martell hoped to be back playing club rugby this season.


A conviction would make her ability to travel more laborious as she would lose her visa-free travel privileges being a Kiwi.

Bourke said due to the high level of alcohol, being 514mcg, and her being subject to a zero alcohol limit, he determined it as "high level" offending.

"Had it been a couple of weeks later and you were 20 I would have found it a moderate level of offending, given that adults can drink some alcohol before driving."

Bourke said Martell was of good character, she was young and about to embark on a four-year physiotherapy degree, which she had earmarked as an alternative career with professional sports teams if her knee injury ended her dream of playing.

"You are a successful sports woman, in many codes, and you wish to travel internationally to play for New Zealand and perhaps club sides overseas."

Bourke accepted a conviction would impact her travel but in most cases it wouldn't stop her from travelling, simply "create more hurdles".

"You are hard working and come from a good and supportive family ... this [incident] gives every indication that it is a one-off, out-of-character event."

He said he had to be satisfied there was a "real and appreciable possibility" that she would need to travel overseas for work or study.

There appeared to be more speculation than certainty that she would travel, especially given her debilitating knee injuries.

"There are alternative entry processes available to most countries but I do not find that they are unreasonably difficult or uncertain."

As her application was based solely on the challenges of possible travel, he declined it as he deemed they would not be insurmountable and could be overcome by early applications.

Martell was convicted and fined $500, disqualified from driving for six months and ordered to pay court costs of $130.

"I wish you well in your rehabilitation and your studies, and I hope you do the country proud," Bourke told Martell as she left the dock.