One of New Zealand's most promising snowboarders drove his mother's car drunk, then ran away after being stopped by police.
Ronan Thompson was the toast of the Wanaka snowsports fraternity in March when he won the European junior freeride championships in Austria.
The 18-year-old came back to earth in the Queenstown District Court yesterday when he was refused a discharge without conviction for drink-driving and failing to accompany a police officer.
He was stopped by police while driving with two passengers in Lakeside Rd in the township on October 13 last year.
His breath-alcohol level was 809mcg - the legal limit for drivers under 20 is zero.
Counsel Tanya Surrey said Thompson "panicked'' and ran when told his breath screening test was positive.
A schoolboy at the time, he had made an "impetuous, foolish, misguided decision'' to drive in the first place.
Surrey said the consequences of two convictions were "huge'' because the entry requirements for two of the countries where he competed, the United States and Canada, were onerous.
Prosecuting Sergeant Ian Collin said although a conviction would make entering the two countries difficult, it was not an absolute ban and applicants in his position had to "jump through certain hoops''.
Judge Brandts-Giesen said Thompson had been an "accident waiting to happen''.
Not only had he driven while more than twice the criminal limit, he was carrying passengers when not allowed to do so.
Drink-driving was "dangerous, illegal and socially irresponsible''.
"It's one of the curses of New Zealand society, and results in deaths, injuries, heartbreak and cost.''
He told Thompson he was the author of his own misfortune.
"You are accountable and must be punished. You must face the music just as many people have to do in your circumstances.
"At least you're alive, you're still fit and well - it could've been a lot worse for you if there had been an accident.''
Thompson's application for a discharge was refused, and he was convicted of both charges.
For drink-driving, he was fined $600 and disqualified from driving for eight months.
For failing to accompany a police officer, his disqualification period was lengthened to nine months.
- Otago Daily Times